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Spirit vs. Profit

Michael Colhaze

July 23, 2010 


The day when a sportsman lets considerations of vanity or interest take over, on this day his ideal will die.
                           Pierre de Coubertin, Founder of  Modern Olympics

We Germans are known to be weird but good car makers, which is the reason why it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I tell you that we own a psychic octopus named Paul who accurately predicted the outcome of the World-football-championship-semi-final. By means beyond my intellectual reach did he conclude that the German team, high on the agenda as cup winner and particularly cherished in the betting world, would be licked by Spain whom nobody believed capable to lick anybody in any case. Well, I loved him for it! And I was even more delighted when his prediction turned out to be true.

Paul the Octopus

Weird indeed, you may say. How can someone want his national team to be clobbered, particularly when the final victory has become a real possibility? I’ll tell you why! For the simple reason that it is not my national team anymore. Because how can it be if seven players out of eleven are of foreign extraction, do not consider themselves as Germans and, most offensive and insulting, refuse to sing the National Anthem on official occasions. Which happens to be the case, widely disseminated in the media, with Serdar Tasci, Sami Khedira, Piotr Trochowski, Jerome Boateng, Lukas Podolski, Dennis Aogo and Mesut Özil, all names that sound about as Krautish as couscous or coconut.  

The question is of course why these ball-dribbling primadonnas with their multi-million Euro accounts and the team spirit of a bedbug have the incredible cheek to insult their guest country in such a foul manner. A country that has received them generously, paved their way to stardom and wealth, and declared itself, at least officially, to be tolerant of their generally hostile creeds and intentions. The answer can be found in the last passage. Forced to be politically correct by dark machinations, Germany’s present officialdom is facilitating the final demise of whatever may be left of our national culture and identity by welcoming whoever steps, sneaks or barges across the country’s razed ramparts. Machinations, as you may have noticed, that are elsewhere in full swing as well.  

Many moons ago occasion and accident swept me for ten years or so into a tiny village somewhere in Italy’s Alpine foothills. While my sons were still in the kindergarten, a neighbour asked me to enrol them in the local football team. It was a suggestion that needed some persuasion, since my own appreciation of that noble game is ambivalent. Or better, pessimistic. Because while a small boy myself, someone lured me onto the green field and made me a goalkeeper. I don’t remember the circumstances anymore, but suspect my size played into it, particularly my ape-like long arms. Which did not, however, enable me to catch the first fast-flying ball. It effortlessly passed my raised hands, caught me full on the nose, knocked me right over, made me bleed profusely, and left me with a slight nasal twang that casual people mistake as arrogance. My mother immediately cancelled further participations, told me that football is hoi polloi, and suggested tennis instead as more balanced for the mental and bodily expansion. I agreed, but never really got around to it, either for lack of money or being in parts where they don’t play tennis. But I let my neighbour persuade me, which was one of the happiest decisions I’ve ever made.

I still remember vividly the first day when one of my sons looked at his feet with a frown, swung a leg outwards, kicked, and missed the ball. It gave me a distinct pang of fatherly frustration, an apprehension that the offspring in which I had invested so much love and attention might not live up to my expectations. But far from it! Only a few months and they were flying across the field like the rest of the team, already versed in a few tricks of the trade, eager to win. And rigorously respecting the rules and beginning to understand the need of subjecting individual ambition to the game’s most valuable educational reward, namely its spirit of collective endeavour.         

It was all very Italian, with a lot of noise, excitement and laughter, shouting encouragement or yelling insults at the referee. Provided the weather permitted, I drove most Sunday mornings to a different encounter that usually ended with a cool drink in the tavern where strategies were heatedly discussed by boys and dads alike. In short, a lovely ending of the week and a great feeling because what we had been witnessing was sport as it should be, pure and candid and idealistic. A marvellous experience, deeply gratifying emotionally, and the stakes nothing more tangible but the honour of the village. Once our team won the regional championship, and during the little ceremony afterwards I had to wrestle down an aberrant tear when the slightly befuddled trainer talked some old-fashioned stuff about unselfish dedication, a fine combative spirit and the nobility of untrammelled and generous young hearts. 

I knew of course that the boys dreamt sometimes of becoming one day another Maradonna or Ronaldo, or whatever those hyped-up tumblers are called, and that the thought made them run even faster. So I told them in time how infinitesimal the chances are that this could ever come about, and if it really did, how they would regret it in their old age. And mentioned an old friend who was once a professional football player and made a lot of money, but could go nowhere without being harassed by crowds, and is by now on painkillers because the many old lesions received in the field give him much trouble. And told them as well that football as we know it today has nothing to do anymore with the true game, because it was sequestered and debased into a multi-billion enterprise by the world’s Mammon Mafiosi who swapped spirit for profit and are now entertaining the crowds with a bunch of overpaid acrobats who are as familiar with the ideal of national honour as a Wall street bankster with the sanctity of a small investor’s pension.    

Honour has been since the conception of the Olympic Games in Classical Greece the reward for great sportsmanship. Honour for oneself, honour for one’s village, honour for one’s nation. Honour in form of a few laurels or a medal that were for those who had won them more valuable than all the gold in the world. But since the advent of the Mammon Media only a few decades ago, honour has not only become an obsolete term, but is quite openly scoffed at by those presently in power. Which seems to be the reason why those who want to move on in the world believe that only ruthless conceit will get them there.    

Honour, together with fairness, probity, honesty, candour, naturalness, peacefulness, modesty, guilelessness, chastity, purity…  are part of the Divine Blueprint that is embedded in every decent person’s central being. And since most people are decent at heart and hope to get through life as decently as possible, the present degradation of our fundamental values by the aforementioned machinators can never be permanent, but must be seen as only a temporal perversion. A perversion that will eventually exact a terrible price from those who promote it so brazenly, namely an emotional desertification born out of the slow but relentless realization to have squandered any chance for redemption. Or as it is said somewhere in the Scriptures: You cannot mock God without provoking His wrath.  

As for Paul the Octopus, he was actually the only one who managed to derive some personal advantage from the world cup cabal. BALD, Germany’s largest tabloid and not yet (hopefully) owned by Turd Murdoch and his machinators, prides itself with a fine nose for public moods. While exploiting Paul’s by now worldwide fame as infallible oracle, it launched a massive campaign to the effect that the good octopus should be asked if a truly homespun and more respectful German team would have won the Cup. Which turned out to be a medial mega-cracker that brought not only politicians and their assorted machinators into difficulties, but the national guild of Gutmenschen as well. The latter means good-humans, but is strictly derogative because this band of officially funded optimists are known to put the head into the sand and to pull it out only when it’s too late and they are buggered from behind. Therefore, and instead of admitting that someone had somewhere made a serious mistake, it was decided to get rid of Paul in the most unobtrusive way possible. The practically minded Federal Neocons suggested to serve him with French fries for dinner, but more prudent souls warned against possible repercussions, with the argument that nowadays no one can be trusted anymore, particularly in politics. A fact that is vividly demonstrated right now in the UK where one Lord Mandelson, a schemer of the worst kind who has, just to name one example, ruined the British aluminium industry for thirty pieces of silver laid out by his pal Nat Rothschild, and who is now shamelessly smearing his former buddies to pave the way for Labour’s new leader. 

As concerns Paul, he ended up where he had come from, namely in an undisclosed cove on the coast of Sardinia where a Special Unit of Germany’s Guardians of the Constitution is watching over his general well-being and protecting him from being abducted by the loathsome GNP, sister party of Britain’s BNP, to bring about the worst possible scenario, namely the plain truth.      

And if that weren’t enough, the latest rumour has it that FIFA, the World Football Governing Body, is pressured by SKY NEWS to admit a few locally born gorillas into the national teams since they are, if well trained, a lot faster than humans and more agile if aroused. Which would hilariously entertain the randy crowds, satisfy the Gutmenschen, generate fabulous advertising revenues, and leave football where some people want it to be.


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Michael Colhaze (email him) is a pen name.

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