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England’s fickle obsessions

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By Nick Lang
UK Editor


In England there are two types of people: Those who like football and those who like rugby. It is also possible to have people who don't like either; these people are often known as women. It's probably fairly similar in the States where you either like fast-paced, intense action sports like basketball and ice hockey, or you like to have something to watch while you get drunk so you're into baseball and American football.

In England however, there seems to be a power so great that it actually transcends the rugby/football divide, so the line becomes blurred. This power is sporadic national pride. Last week, when England rugby team beat France in the World Cup semi-final half of all people watching TV in England had the match on. That is a staggering amount of people. What is more staggering is the fact that if you'd asked all of those people if they liked rugby two weeks before the event, most of them would have responded simply by saying "fuck off".

Now that England are in the final of the rugby World Cup, national pride has gone so far that the rugby team has been mentioned on the front page of almost every newspaper for the last few days, the queen has announced that she's got all excited about it, and they put up a wax-work of Jonny Wilkinson - the player who scores all the drop goals - up in Trafalgar Square. Plus sales of English flags have sky-rocketed.

I guess English people feel that we don't get many opportunities to feel proud of our nation, so we tend to get a bit over-excited when such an opportunity arises. See also Wimbledon tennis tournament, the football European and World Cups, Golf, Formula 1 etc etc etc. The thought that we might actually win something for once obviously gets a little too much for us, as we are programmed to deal soley with disappointment in sport.

You have to wonder though; how much of an effect would it have on English flag sales if we got into the final of the World curling championships?