Monday, July 02, 2018

Schrodinger's World Cup

OK, I'm finally going to have to talk about football.  And quantum physics.  We're in that strange situation with the World Cup where England have escaped the group stage, but have yet to play their first (and possibly last) knock out match of the tournament.  Which, in practice, it means that for fans and the media, the possibility of progressing, even winning the World cup still exists.  They are all still allowed to be elated, they can still dream.  Yet at the same time, there coexists the possibility that they will lose and go tumbling out of the competition.  It's a bit like Schrodinger's Cat which, until the box is opened, exists in a state of limbo, neither dead nor alive - both possibilities coexist until that fateful moment.  Gareth Southgate is still the greatest England manager since Alf Ramsay and Harry Kane still a national hero.  All those firms sponsoring England can still dream of another couple of weeks of their World cup themed advertising campaigns and the press can still dream of more column inches about England's glory to come.

Simultaneously, Southgate is vilified as the worst England manager since Steve McClaren, Harry Kane is branded a flop, those advertising campaigns come to an abrupt halt and the media looks forward to more column inches slating England.  You can see both of these narratives jostling for position as the match approaches, with fans and press alternating between bouts of euphoria and despondency.  Which one finally comes into full existence will be decided over ninety minutes (or more, if it goes to injury time and/or penalties) tomorrow night.  Right now, though, many can't decide which reality is preferable: an England victory will simply put us all into another limbo as we await the quarter final.  A defeat, however, would not only put us all out of our misery, but would confirm the underlying assumption among press and many fans that England are the perennial non-achievers, that no matter how ell they perform, they always fall at their first real test.  There's undoubtedly something reassuring about such a narrative: the inevitability of failure becomes something you can rely upon - success would be an unknown country, something to be feared.  Still,by this time tomorrow we'll all know which way the cat has jumped and which reality has prevailed.



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