Editorial: The Old Rock 16.09.10

For lovers of the peculiar, The Guardian website’s re-creation of World Cup matches on a lego pitch with lego men, filmed in slow motion, proved to be almost as good a summary of the action as any written report. The final itself was reduced to two nasty tackles, one by the Dutch and one by the Spanish, and the now infamous de Jong kick (how long before a new martial art is christened?). Oh, and the winning goal.

The writer and philosopher Albert Camus, a goalkeeper, once said he had learned most of what he knew about morality and man from football. In this vein, there was a great deal of discussion after England’s crushing defeat by Germany about the triumph of teamwork over individualism. Never has there been so much talk about a false dichotomy.

It was rarely remarked upon how individually talented the German players were; the implication seemed to be that any group of players who knew how to pass to each other would have succeeded.

The pointless teamwork/individualism debate came to a shuddering halt after the final. The realisation that a group of players can, as a team, decide to be bad in the moral sense in order to achieve their ends should not have come as a great surprise, especially given the history of the financial world in the last three years. The outcry against the Dutch is a healthy sign. Values are more fundamental to what we do as individuals, as communities, as organisations and as institutions than anything else.

Lose sight of that and we might as well join in the veneration of an octopus in a tank that was passed off as the mollusc world’s Nostradamus.


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