Tattoing and the World Cup

Although football is hardly the American national sport, the New York Times ran more than one article about the German victory in the World Cup, with links to sites that explained the part that advanced technology had played in it. For example, physiological monitoring of the players in training allowed the manager to select those to play who were at the peak of their fitness. The German team also had a specially built training camp that was exactly calculated to its needs. There the players could enjoy both privacy and a social life to encourage team spirit.

But all of this, it seems to me, is beside the point and does not explain why Germany triumphed over Argentina. The real reason for their victory was the relative absence among their players of tattoos.

The exact means by which this absence led to their victory would be worth studying. Perhaps it was physical: perhaps the process of tattooing, especially when as extensive as that endured by quite a number of the Argentinian players, drains the body of some of its strength, subliminally but enough to make the difference between two otherwise equal teams.

I suspect, though, that the connection between tattooing and defeat, or its absence and victory, is not as direct as that, but is rather more psychological or cultural than physical. What depths of self-abasement must a person reach to mutilate himself in the way that so many of the Argentinian players had, to say nothing of the players of the other teams in the competition? I cannot say that I have studied the matter with scholarly attention, but I should not be surprised if the German team was the least tattooed in the whole of the World Cup, at least of those teams with a high proportion of players with skins pale enough for tattooing to be highly noticeable.

And this in turn suggests a higher cultural level than that of other teams. Football is not the manifestation of high culture, of course, but its players, to be very good, need to be serious and disciplined. And, since relaxation is necessary for young men, it would clearly be advantageous for them to be able to enjoy themselves without resort to the lack of judgment and savage customs of other nations.

Therefore the first thing that I would do if appointed manager of the English team is let it be known that henceforth no tattooed player would be selected for it.

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