Alan Green has earned numerous plaudits as a BBC sports reporter, and particularly as a football commentator. His style captures the richness of popular opinion. He is passionate and opinionated. He remains one a fierce critic of all things stupid as he sees them. Among his targets are the malign impact of money on football, the crassness of the Football Association, the duplicity of FIFA, the ineptness of referees, the exploitation of fans, and … [well you’ve got the idea]. For all that, he is worth listening to. His pungency does not need deconstructing for hidden agendas. But his words may still reveal deeper emotional influences.
Speaking in Radio 5s 606 talk-back programme yesterday [20th February 2011] he was discussing with a caller the pulsating end of the Leyton Orient/ Arsenal FA cup tie. The minnows battled to snatch a draw against The Gunners. Alan adores the FA cup (or the magic of the cup, as he puts it).
Humbled or humiliated?
Sadly I didn’t write down his exact words but here’s my best attempt at capturing them. Isn’t that the magic of the cup when a great team like Arsenal can be humbled in that way?
Eureka! ‘Humbled’. For humbled read humiliated. That was the motivation behind the commentary on MUFC against Crawley Town the day before: a yearning for the downfall of the mighty. Humiliation theory applied to football. But not complete obliteration but hubristic come-uppance of the mighty by the humble.
He doesn’t really hate Arsenal
What is not is a loathing of Arsenal. Alan Green has an equally non-judgemental enthusiasm for the way Arsenal plays football under its quixotic coach Arsene Wenger. His praise for the team mid-week in defeating the even mightier Barcelona was unstinting. No. This is more a display of human motivation rooted in social identity and insecurities. Humiliation theory is alive and well, and has impact beyond the football terraces.