Scottish football has endured a crazy couple of weeks with managers sent to the stand amid accusations of people being offered a ‘square go’; teammates sent packing for scrapping on the pitch mid-match; and players dismissed for rude signage to fans and spitting at officials.
None of it is edifying and while the passion of the game is used to apply a comfort balm to the behaviour and mitigate its sting, the effect on the sport can be damaging in terms of perception, according to some righteous and straight-laced observers.
The problem is that there is no evidence that fans are in the slightest way discombobulated by it all, or want the bad lads reigned in.
On the contrary, they love it.
Not so deep down, we love a bit of aggro on the field which allows us as punters to give full vent to the very raison d’etre of football.
The sight of foam-flecked mouths and eye-bulging players and managers, entertains us and drives our most base instinct – the desire to belong to a tribe.
Reason and rationality have no place in football.
It is my team versus your team and philosophical musings can be kept for the debating society.
So the players and the managers will accept their fines and bans, and hacks like me will continue to fill column inches and airwaves with mock outrage, while secretly offering up a prayer to the football gods for the madness of it all, and raising a glass to the daftness of the glorious game.
~ Two of the great sporting events on the planet entertain us this weekend and they both require courage and skill in abundance, but of different sorts.
The Grand National may not be the fearsome monster of yesteryear with the ferocity of many fences reigned in over recent times, but the very name Becher’s Brook and the sight of a ton of horse flesh hurtling over it with an 11-stone jockey aboard at 30 miles an hour still strikes admiration, awe, and fear, into our hearts in equal measure.
The bravery and chutzpah of the men and women, and the horses, who tackle the four-mile, two-furlong course, are at the top of the pile in sporting heroism for me.
A birl on the waltzers has the capacity to make my stomach sing so the dizzying dance round Aintree at high speed and with danger lurking with every beat of the hooves, fills me with admiration for the combatants.
The pace at Augusta may be much more sedate and far less dangerous, excluding Dustin Johnson’s tumble down the house stairs, of course, which led to his withdrawal, but a special kind of courage is also required in the Masters.
The exhausting test of nerve required to play great golf with every shot in front of packed galleries, and with the eyes of millions glued to TV screens, can shred the confidence of the finest players.
It’s why so few make it in a professional sport which requires a more fulsome package of gifts than mere skill alone: it also demands grit and guts.