The current football European Championships have thrown up something that recalls Glenn Hoddle’s tenure as England manager. If consulting a ‘faith healer’ to bolster squad morale didn’t cast aspersions on his, er, judgement, his later comments on bad karma certainly did for him, with the FA promptly handing over his P45.
Footballers, however, are a superstitious lot. Now, it turns out, the French coach, Raymond Domenech, is being guided in his team selection… by the stars. Won’t pick a show-off Leo to partner another at centre-back, or some such. And absolutely no Scorpios in the squad. Makes Sven-Göran Eriksson’s last England World Cup squad selection of just four strikers – two of whom were not fit, and one was an untried seventeen year-old who had barely played for his club – seem almost sapient. But hey, the French reached the last World Cup final, and, unlike England, are in the ongoing Euro finals, so Domenech is obviously doing something right; and being English, I shouldn’t scoff. And rather than churning out the stock predictable interview answers, maybe he could be someone who likes to mock the media and is just having us on.
Meanwhile, a laudable European Union move is afoot to crack down on (dodgy) spiritualists. This, however, makes an important overlook – astrology. Professional sport has become increasingly scientific – fitness, nutrition, psychology, training, tactics, (doping), etc – but it is a human activity, so will still be prone to human foibles and inconsistencies – that’s what makes it interesting. Otherwise, why bother? So it doesn’t matter, does it, astrology? Just a bit of fun, right? Nobody takes it seriously, do they? Do they? So why do too many people still religiously give credence to snakeoil words, lining the pockets of charlatans posturing as mini-prophets with the ability to predict our personalities and futures, and exploiting our innate yearning for cause and effect?
Naturally, the losers almost always look to allay blame. But you might think the victorious would want to take the credit themselves. And what’s wrong with a bit of contingency? Without it, sport would be dull.
Keep your eye on the ball, Domenech. Allez les bleus!