We really shouldn’t be surprised football fans can’t handle a player defying a symbol. Football is where the country is trained to worship symbols at the expense of the concepts and ideas they represent.
Owners, players, strategies, rules, and ideals all change year after year, after year. The goal posts are literally moved. Even the territories the symbols represent move back and forth, with no reason or rhyme, leaving nothing but the flag (name, symbol, colors) to hold onto.
Once a group of people is sufficiently attached to a symbol–be it a nation’s flag, a holy book, skin color, or a racist team name–one can alter, inch-by-inch, everything that symbol stands for, and they will follow the symbol rather than the ideals that got them to associate with the symbol in the first place. Why? Because they relinquished their will to that symbol long ago. People cannot possibly make the entire amount of decisions presented to them on a daily basis. Our brain has learned shortcuts, and when these are exploited we barely notice until one day we wake up in some moment of clarity after crossing the point of no return.
Cognitive dissonance is bred into the fan from the ground up. The game is called football, despite the predominant mode being to carry the ball with one’s hands. Cheerleaders, present but ignored, subconsciously associate sexual arousal with mentalities of warmongering, escalation, and binary thinking. Us vs. Them. Our newscasting in the nation now reflects our sportscasting, and political enthusiasm has been replaced with high-stakes fandom of one team or another, with no comprehension or attachment to underpinning ideologies.
At least with World Cup and Olympics, there are real nationalities in play. The “teams” in major Western sports are absolutely meaningless. Faceless corporations playing wargames for the amusement and training of the masses. The game is played all for an ultimately fruitless but symbolic victory. It is the ultimate defeat of the symbol over meaning. I guess what I’m saying is, I prefer baseball.