Following Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace, Town’s commercial director Sean Jarvis took to Twitter to share an email he had received from a disgruntled fan. The email wasn’t what you’re thinking it is, it wasn’t an email complaining about tactics, recent defeats, faulty merchandise or anything like that. It was about swearing in the stadium, and how it had affected the experience of one supporter’s child.
The issue of swearing in football is something that tends to polarise fans, with one side claiming ‘its part and parcel of football’ and the other side saying ‘it’s harmful to our children’. As is always the case, there is somewhat of a middle ground and in this article we intend to explore the arguments for and against swearing at football games.
*BE WARNED, THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS BAD LANGUAGE WHICH HAS BEEN USED AS A DEMONSTRATIVE TOOL. IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY BAD LANGUAGE, PLEASE RECONSIDER READING, THANK YOU*
Kids swear already
Those who defend swearing at football nearly always say that ‘children these days swear like bloody troopers anyway, so swearing at football isn’t going to upset them’. Well that may be true, but it’s largely age and background dependent.
As a 5-year-old I called my parents local pub ‘The Twats Pub’, because I didn’t know how to pronounce the word Thwaites – although it may have been an apt name, I didn’t know any different and certainly had no idea I was swearing.
At 7-years-old I recall saying ‘bloody’ in the school playground and being told on by one of my friends. I was subsequently told off by my teachers and then, after school by my parents. I’d safely say it wasn’t until the age of 11 that I began to use the word ‘shit’ regularly with my school friends, but never at home in front of my Mum.
Twat and cunt were words I had heard once or twice, but I knew they were horrible words that I should never say under any circumstances. At around 13/14-years-old I began to swear regularly with my friends, and once or twice in front of my parents.
I was completely okay with swearing at that age and so were the people around me, so when I went to the football it was no surprise to me to hear bad language. “The referee’s a wanker” was a chant I’d join in with, but as a younger child I wouldn’t dare to.
Also as a younger child, if someone had stood up in front of me and screamed, “YOU FAT LAZY CUNT!” I’d have been shocked and probably a little bit scared. So in summary I think it’s about knowing your audience to a degree. If you’re unsure of someone’s age or their proclivity to swearing, then err on the side of caution and don’t swear.
Certainly don’t swear if you’re in front of children younger than teenagers as they most probably won’t be familiar with the bad language you use. They will most likely be terrified by your public outpouring of anger as well.
Would you call the cashier at Sainsbury’s a wanker when you’re in a queue with a bunch of young children? Probably not, so don’t do the same at football, be aware of your surroundings. If you’re sat amongst a bunch of boisterous supporters though, swearing will probably be fine.
Behaviour such as that in the video below can be offensive and frightening for small children, don't get carried away.
There’s a family stand for a reason
Those in favour of swearing at football often proffer this argument, and it’s a salient point. There is a family stand available for those with small children, where they should be completely free of the swearing and those more vociferous supporters. If this isn’t the case then the stewards should be doing their jobs properly to ensure it is a child-friendly zone.
For those who are unable to get seats in the family stand or simply want to sit somewhere with a better view, there should be some freedom from swearing too. If they were to take their child into the south stand, then it would be completely unreasonable of them to expect anything other than swearing.
The stand is dedicated to fans who want to generate an intimidating atmosphere for opposition fans and players alike. Although they may wear the same colours as you and your family, your children may find them slightly intimidating as well, so beware to avoid this.
It’s all relative for other stands as well, personally I would choose to take a young child to the Lawrence Batley Upper (I haven’t changed what I call the stands since around 2005), something I have done before and experienced no bad language.
There are areas of the stadium that attract different supporters and if you’re bringing a child, you’d be wise to seek out areas such as the Lawrence Batley upper or the Panasonic upper as the language used there will be much nicer.
To use another metaphor, imagine you’re taking your child out for a pub lunch. You wouldn’t head straight to Wetherspoons as you know the clientele there are a little rowdier than your local country pub. So again, beware of your surroundings.
What about away games?
Personally, I believe that away games aren’t suitable for children under the age of around 14, which was when I went on my first away trip (Vale Park if you’re wondering). The atmosphere in away ends tends to be even more vociferous than in the South Stand, so you may not want to bring your child to this environment.
If you do and they hear bad language, witness rude gestures or see drunken behaviour then unfortunately, you have no one to blame but yourself. As you would have no one to blame but yourself for taking your child down to Wetherspoons at 8pm on a Saturday night.
The TerrierBlog Verdict
Should supporters swear in front of young children? No
Will swearing in front of young children happen? Yes
What can be done about it? Give and take on both sides
Parents can avoid areas that are more likely to attract supporters who will be swearing, and supporters can also use their common sense when they see small children. Don’t take your child into a crowd of drunken football fans and be shocked that they hear rude words, but equally don’t let your frustration get the better of you and scare a young child by swearing aggressively right in front of them. Simples.
We’d be really interested to hear your views on this topic as well, if you want to get involved you can leave a comment at the bottom of this article or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org