From a journalist: the Finland-Russia match is the smallest event in the history of both countries
Even a meeting between Biden and Putin in faraway Switzerland can affect life in Finland more than a “historical” sporting event 400 kilometers from Helsinki, writes Yle News journalist Maxim Fedorov.
There is hardly a person who has moved to another country who has never been asked who he is rooting for during sports: for the homeland he left, or for the second home? They ask me these questions from time to time. My position is extremely simple, but at the same time radical.
I did not avoid similar questions on the eve of yesterday’s “historic” football match between Russia and Finland. The questioners, however, in my opinion, proceed from two fundamentally incorrect postulates. The first is that everyone is interested in sports. I am not at all alone: I myself know dozens of people of different sex, nationality and social status who are absolutely indifferent to sports. The second assumption is that the hour and a half running on the grass of twenty well-earning people has something to do with national identity and the feeling of homeland.
In Finland, a person who does not follow any sport is probably the same black sheep as a person is not drinking coffee. But if scientists still break their spears about the benefits or dangers of a coffee bean uzvar, then, in any case, I am personally one hundred percent convinced of the harmfulness of professional sports. And now I will explain for what reasons.
First, professional sports maintains an absolutely unfounded pride in their country in many people. As we know, patriotism is the last refuge of a villain, and the sporting achievements of one person or a group of people for some reason are identified with the success or failure of their native state. Although, in fact, winning football in a swamp does not make the swamp less a swamp, even though its inhabitants are imbued with tender feelings for it.
Sport is a hotbed of all that with which Western society is now waging a fierce struggle.
In general, the universal injustice lies in the fact that physical superiority is the standard in sports competitions. I dream of a world in which there will be world championships in the spelling of complex words so beloved by Americans. In which the virtuoso performance of yodeling or Tuvan throat singing will become an Olympic sport. In which the world championship is held in the most original and convincing argumentation in the discussion. And so that the ratings of these competitions are not lower than those of current sports.
Secondly, sport is often mistakenly equated with health. Health is physical education, it is walking, jogging and skiing, but this is definitely not trying to get the most out of yourself with training or doping. Professional sports cripples the body and psyche of a person and does not give the majority of those employed in it a profession for life. The most egregious case is the dementia of boxers or American football players, which develops due to many micro-concussions.
Finland has its own peculiarities of this aspect. Due to the popularity of professional hockey, many children and adolescents are fond of this particular sport. But it has already been proven that one or even two workouts per week is not enough to cover the child’s recommended physical activity, especially if he sits on the bench for part of the workout and waits for his turn to go out on the ice.
Thirdly, sport sets the wrong attitude in life that one must overcome oneself at any cost and strive to be better than others. The hard truth is that everyone can’t be the best, so it’s worth developing not to surpass the other, but to surpass yourself in the past. In the Finnish school, this is already gradually coming, but not in sports yet.
Yes, even the lack of development is not a sin. Not everyone is created to strive, achieve and overcome. Sometimes just living is a blessing in itself. I would like the everydayness and commonness not to carry negative connotations. And Finland could be the pioneer of this world movement, since here they do not hesitate to celebrate the Day of the Loser every year in October.
The list is endless, but I will end it with one important reason why I consider professional sports harmful. Sport and sports life is a hotbed of all that with which today’s Western discourse is waging such a fierce struggle. A breeding ground for aggression, racism, chauvinism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination. These phenomena permeate both the fan movement and the sports circles themselves.
I still remember the fierce wars that Zenit and Spartak fans fought in the nineties. Perhaps Russian football fans have calmed down since then, but British ones did not even think. In hockey, a hit – a forceful technique with the aim of taking the puck from an opponent – is generally written down in the rules. And scandals with manifestations of racism in sports have already reached Finland.
I understand why big sport attracts people. In real time, they witness the birth of some result, the joy or bitterness from which they can share with thousands of outsiders, who in this situation can be called like-minded people. However, one should not exaggerate the importance of a sports match in people’s lives. Finland will remain Finland, no matter whether its national team has passed to any championship or not. Ordinary life may be more influenced by, for example, the meeting between Biden and Putin in Geneva, which took place at the same time as the Finland-Russia match. After all, the twists and turns of Russian-American relations can have implications for trade, security, free movement, and even the routes of international flights.
It would be naive to believe that humanity will suddenly abandon professional sports overnight, because it is a reflection of the desire for competition inherent in human nature. But I would very much like to see an adequate attitude to sports: as one of the subtypes of show business, which has nothing to do with national identity and especially with national pride.
The editorial opinion may not coincide with the position author.