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'Unhealthy' Competition.



" I really, really want this shirt!"
In life, competition is indeed, healthy. Whether Rafael Nadal pushing a once dominant Roger Fededer to dizzying new heights of breathtaking Tennis; also rising the levels of future grand slam winners around it. Or the technological marvels created by the late Steve Jobs - one-upping his good friend Bill Gates, genuine threats to our throne force us to remain hungry, focused, and determined; in order to remain seated firmly upon it.

The flip-side to an unchallenged chair is painfully predictable. Floyd Mayweather walking through fighter after fighter, Phil Taylor winning eight consecutive PDC World darts titles, and Facebook changing site rules - to suit themselves as and when they please, all leaving a hollow taste in the mouths of onlookers; desperate to view the marvels of an irreversible force, meeting an immovable object. Civilisation needs competition to evolve, but it also needs respect; otherwise, there is no civilisation...

As a fan of Premier League stalwarts, Arsenal, I have carried a life-long disposition against Tottenham Hotspur; the natural enemy of geographical design. If honest, even if I wasn't a supporter of the gunners, I would still dislike the club. Run by the delusional and ignorant; who carry an attitude of enough never being enough, and treating both their players and fans with blatant contempt, I find it difficult to respect such consistent inconsistency. I see Spurs as the England of club football; a side who play in white, haven’t won anything important since the 1960’s - yet continue to convince themselves they are world greats, and helped ruin Gazza – when Gazza wasn’t busy ruining himself. This of course makes Arsenal, Germany; which these days, is difficult to argue against.

My genuine disdain is aimed at the club, and the humorous side, it's often uppity yet harmless supporters. Both fan-bases are never associated with hooliganism, a respectable stance is maintained between one another, and both understandably desire to be the best inside their cosmopolitan jungle, either side of Harringay. However, with the recent troubles of either club; the bizarre decision of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to fire yet another progressive manager, and Theo Walcott’s tragic World Cup ending injury, the bad blood has spilled over, into the murky lines of vitriolic hatred; laughing about the young man's setback, and making cowardly Holocaust references in return on social media. It is sad for me to see, as Tottenham and Arsenal are passionate clubs, not nasty ones. And while I understand the lines between banter and personal attack are threadbare at best - very few are stupid enough to remain unaware of what is and isn't offensive. It is a dangerous precedent to set, as the moment these avenues are crossed, it becomes very easy to continue along such negative waters; and even harder to return back to a more civilised footing; once the futile error of these ways have been realised.

"Peace!"
I feel genuine sympathy for Spurs supporters. Any period the club grows into a side on the verge on eclipsing Arsenal in ability and success; and two years ago under Harry Redknapp, they were a seriously formidable outfit, the owners develop an ego rush, and decide to gamble all their hard earned chips on a three-legged horse; which inevitably falls flat on its arse - leaving them returning back to the grindstone, as Europa League regulars on ITV4. 

Couple this with a decade of having to watch the red side of North London bankroll a brand new stadium, challenge for major honours, and build a stack of consistent fresh squads, and the pain of White Hart Lane lies evermore deeper. I can happily chuckle at these misfortunes as they are part of a game, and truly harmless to wider life; perhaps this is the barrier line I refer to. As for Arsenal, we are too dignified a fan-base for this, and while our club's history is hardly the stuff of a Waltons episode, our multi-cultural, social, and global support base is defined by the interest in results on the pitch, then petty name calling off it. As Jonathan Agnew would say... "It's just not cricket."

Spurs fans will always rip into Arsenal, and Arsenal fans will always rip into Spurs. A lack of good old-fashioned Tottenham bashing - and Tottenham fist shaking in return, leaves football in North London so much emptier. But a line has to be drawn somewhere. Much like sledging cricketers about mental health issues, or snide, bitter jokes about the plight of the Jews; who have suffered some truly hellish periods, paedophile references, coin-throwing, and laughing about a young-man missing out on a once in a lifetime world cup opportunity, it is simply against the human spirit of life – as much as the human spirit of healthy competition. Naturally sections of the media will attempt to inflame the issue, but I hope it ends up missing the target - much like most Spurs shots at Arsenal's goalmouth, this past weekend.

I will still hope Tottenham lose every non-Arsenal affecting match, and I am sure Spurs fans will wish the same in reverse. Even though we may deny it, the clubs need one another; as healthy rivals, not bitter enemies. Football is a game, and games are created for enjoyment. Perhaps those small few who stoke these pointless fires of hate; the media included, need to think a little, before they act. Football is about connection and enjoyment, not attrition and pain... 

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