Tuned into Radio Bloke expecting the England football team to get "lost in a thicket of mediocrity" against Turkey—because the front page of today's Telegraph today told me so. In fact England won 2–0. Wow, surely it couldn't have been another example of British journo hyperbole at its hysterical best?—and with our newspapers being so restrained about the war in Iraq as well!
Of course, according to the same paper, England's Rugby Union team are, by comparison, "a beaming advertisement not just for themselves but the game they play so well".
Knowing the politics of the "Torygraph", it shouldn't be too difficult for the casual reader to work out that rugby is played by public (that is, "private") school boys (plus boys from grammar schools, and nice state schools, and whatever other islands of financially privileged education are available to the lucky).
English Association Football is played by comprehensive school kids who mostly have had the opportunity for a proper education denied them by Thatcherism—specifically by her abolition of selection on ability (she closed more grammar schools than any other minister in history) in favour of selection by parental income (or rather house price, which is a reasonable proxy). Her demolition of British manufacturing industry and her cunning appeal to the baser instincts of "the workers" didn't do much for working-class solidarity, morality or culture either.
It's funny how, in this country, school selection on the basis of sporting ability is just dandy, but selection on the basis of intellectual ability is "elitist".
This suits both middle-class Right-wingers and middle-class Left-wingers—and I'm not referring to positions on the soccer field. The Right-wingers can buy their children an advantage, the Left-wingers can play the system to their children's advantage—even down to "discovering God". The Right use the excuse of "freedom"; the Left "equality". Either way they win by keeping the oiks in their place, no matter how much cleverer they are than Hannah and Sebastian.
This is all academic to the hard-working, clever and poor. They, like Turkey, are comprehensively stuffed by mediocrities.