Friday, 1st December 2023

Professor IBK: An anti-football scholar

By Tony Afejuku
28 July 2023   |   3:00 am
When I did my piece on Mr. Victor Osimhen last Friday, I never gave the slightest thought to the fact that anyone would run his lips of disagreement against the fatherly note of advice I sent to our charming top striker in the Super Eagles who many of us are still waiting for to demonstrate that they are true Super Eagles.

Victor Osimhen

When I did my piece on Mr. Victor Osimhen last Friday, I never gave the slightest thought to the fact that anyone would run his lips of disagreement against the fatherly note of advice I sent to our charming top striker in the Super Eagles who many of us are still waiting for to demonstrate that they are true Super Eagles.

All persons of education who are friends of Mr. Victor Osimhen and who are not his friends but football lovers who cherish our Super Eagles and the squad’s best striker, who currently has no equal in the team, would from the dictates of their hearts send further blunt words of truth to help further his career.

Of course, as their blunt words of truth would play a pleasurably remarkable role to help him advance his career in Napoli in Italy, so also would they benefit our country. Through our top striker’s expected advancement in Napoli our Super Eagles would categorically climb up significantly in FIFA ranking to the advantage of our country that was in 1994 the fifth best football country in the world. I am not making a far-fetched football statement.

All those minus one reader who got in touch with me after reading my words last Friday were exceedingly affable. They ranged from scholars and academics to professionals and sincere lovers of Nigerian football – whose deep love makes them unquestionable patriots. And when I call them patriots I say so with utmost goodwill. They are different absolutely from strange “Patriots” who seek refuge in their curious application of the term to debase our country at the slightest opportunity which cannot but reveal our very poor opinion of them.

Now I feel the need to quote some readers verbatim. Yet I won’t do so – at least not today. I don’t want to place their respective perspectives side by side Professor Ibrahim Bello Kano’s which I find and consider to be extremely ludicrous, even though it has vestiges of jocular jocularity or potently wild jokes which really can be pointedly pointed in the manner of Oscar Wilde (Fingal O’Flahertle Wills), 1854-1900, Irish writer and high wit and author of famous plays such as, for example, The importance of Being Earnest (1895) and his earlier Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892). Let me halt the suspense and take you straight to Professor IBK’s idea that is something that should not be the case. Happy or unhappy reading, depending on your respective mind-frames, my dear and wonderful readers, I wish you.

Prof TA, forgive this comment of mine about your column of last Friday. I find it strange and baffling that a scholar of your caliber should be concerned with football or football glitz stars. 1 played football from primary school to university.1 was the football captain in secondary school and of the football team of my university.

Yet, now, I don’t watch any football games and have never tuned into the numerous soccer or football channels on my DSTV sub. Footballing is, I would argue, the most anti- or un- intellectual of any activity in the world. The huge amount of money involved in professional bootball is obscene, a symbol of the worst excesses of arsatz capitalism. Indeed footballing and its glamorized proletariat and a crew or retinue of TV and press high priests are the new cocaine, the new methamphetamine, or crack cocaine.

In Europe, at least, and especially in the UK, it is the bastion and breeding ground of racism, jingoism, and little Europeaners. However: perhaps you, Prof TA, are the exception: you love books and scholarship and high discourse and still, or in spite of this, love football and its glamorized “actors” and “characters.” Perhaps, as a distinguished literary scholar and critical theorist, you see or view or conceptualize football and footballing as a dramatic act or as a play-text. In that case, you’re justified in your, in my view, strange passion.

I suggest, dear TA that you should turn away from your admiration of football if you would, or if you were to, view it as a poem that is more than a poem.

Footballing is the direct metaphysical opposite of a Poem or poetry itself. In poetry, there’s delicacy, rhythm, rhyme, and figuration within the pure Beauty of the Image. Footballing by contrast is a dull set of repetitive movements, insane or psychotic comings and goings, without Beauty or Metaphor.

I know of no ancient or modern poet who loved or who now loves sweaty, war-like competitiveness over a rather ridiculous rounded leather object, with adults running after it and exhausting a muscle just to get, or beg for, its “blessings.” What’s more, footballing is cosmologically very unlike the Novel: the novel is expansive, dialogic, polyphonic, and “intensevely” Muthosic. Football is the proletariat’s game, full of vacuous windbags and richly empty muscle, obsessed, leather-ball-focused charlatans. Yet, dear Prof TA, keep up the footballing fascination with “running stars” and “Jumping and Swirling, and Sweating” heroes of the Mass Crowds. Finally, your love of football is a sure sign that you love Play (which Derrida would applaud) and the attractions of the mass appeal (which Piers Morgan would approve). Cheers. IBK.

Professor IBK amuses me with his wild thoughts. Should I finish him off with just one or two strokes of my pen? I dismiss the thought for one reason essentially: Why should one destroy one’s admirers to smithereens with one blow or stroke? Of course, I entertain in this column all disagreeable perspectives and theories that go against the common grain and my personal grain. It is good to sound different as my pugilist and sparring partner of sorts demonstrates from time to time. But today despite my acceptance of his right of way and of free speech, I will simply say without wanting to harm him, that his football, what he calls bootball, theory is incurably wrong.

Football is something no one should try to theorize as an un-pleasurable sharp stone that is a windbag of pleasure. To say that football, metaphorically speaking, is akin to a stone that should not be round, but sharp, as I understand IBK’s theory to mean and be, is fascinatingly and un-fascinatingly anti-Oscar Wilde.

Perhaps after reading this Professor IBK should attempt a jocularly witty play on Bootball while I will do a series of poems on Football, Poemball (my own coinage), as a matter of fact, the Afejukusque way! Derrida will applaud me endlessly in his grave. John Milton will similarly lend his applause to my endeavour. Or does Prof. IBK want me to go the Jonathan Swift way in more ways than one?

I don’t know what Oscar Wilde will do in his grave about IBK’s daringness as a Bootball playwright and theorist! Let me end here, but Piers Morgan should endorse me for universal approval. What do my readers think?
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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