An organized effort to disrupt an English football game in Marseille with violence is making the headlines, not because fights never break out at soccer matches, but because the effort was an attempt to use violence as a sport. To make matters worse, the Russian offenders referred to the English as “girls.”
According to Simmons Market Research, 48% of all martial arts participants are female. Laila Ali is a “girl,” as is Ronda Rousey. If I were the English, I wouldn’t take the Russian trouble-makers’ insult too seriously. Girls can kick butt.
When is this view of women in sports and life going to change? We discredit ourselves as humans when we dehumanize each other because of gender. Face it, men, without “girls” you wouldn’t be here. At some point, intelligent human beings will realize that in sports as in all of life, a rising tide lifts all boats. As an old labor song put it: “the rising of the women means the rising of the race.”
The other issue at hand is the idea of violence as sport. Any martial artist will tell you that it takes self-discipline, a respect for others, and a desire to better oneself to improve and master martial arts. Sports in general are meant to train athletes, compete within standardized rules and guidelines, and to better oneself and one’s team. “Hooliganism” is nothing more than an excuse to hurt and dehumanize others, cause disruption, and risk participation by many being banned. We see it over and over: the actions of a few can have an impact on larger, innocent groups of people.
Will the Russians be banned by the Uefa for the behavior of its fans? Time will tell. One would imagine the Russian athletes are pretty disgusted by the actions and words of their “fans.” Women and men alike, athletes or spectators, know that respect is key to competition. When that’s lost, so is the integrity of the actions. Respect between men and women, Russians and English, will see this mess corrected. Let’s hope “girls” can set a better example than the brutes in Marseille.