Sibongile Mafu

Rage against the other team

2013-05-02 09:50

Sibongile Mafu

It turns the nicest of people into savages. The best of friends into arch rivals. It divides healthy homes right down the middle. It brings joy and agony and temporary insanity. There is nothing as numbingly frustrating and equally exhilarating as sport. Well, for those who love it.

All these emotions and brief lapses in civility don't display themselves more proudly than during the last few fixtures of the Premier Soccer League. This is where fans, and players, throw everything they have into their games in hopes that they'll eek out as much as they can from the season.

The last two days saw underdogs and relegation bed partners Chippa United and Ajax Cape Town triumph over the Soweto Giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs respectively. On Tuesday, Kaizer Chiefs fans cackled in the faces of Orlando Pirates fans, in the faces of their friends and families as Chippa United did the improbable: defeating Orlando Pirates in their own backyard. I was at home during that time, and seeing the devastation on my dad’s face, an ardent Pirates supporter, was enough to leave anyone drained.

Yesterday Amakhosi were victims of a healthily-attended Cape Town stadium and a rampant Ajax Cape Town who were desperate to salvage something, anything, from this season and keep themselves in the PSL. And when they did, Pirates fans, myself included, rejoiced as if we’d just been handed another treble.

Now, this entire Robert Marawa-esque sports replay I'm doing is for one reason: look at the way sport subtly and sometimes not so subtly changes us. Mention someone's favourite, and least favourite teams can turn one from piglet to Johnny Bravo. Humility melts away to make way for an arrogant, ugly monster.

There is something about being a lover of sport that can turn even the blandest of individuals into charismatic Barack Obamas. What is it? Very few things in the world can do that. In the same way that it tears close people apart, it brings strangers together. For the most part, the rivalries are all in good fun but they can be brutal. Besides the PSL, there's Super Rugby, the English Premier league, the Olympics, all perfect moments for people to unleash their inner sports Hulk. All this emotion is the lifeblood that adds to drama around sport

The sharp back and offs between fans of teams when a big game is playing.  The sheer disregard for etiquette, politeness and general manners can be both appalling and incredibly entertaining. There’s a sports show waiting to happen with just fans doing this, and I would watch that.

I turn into a monster when Pirates is playing and when Kaizer Chiefs is losing. A vicious Medusa emerges, a shrieking banshee, ready to strike any Amakhosi fan in her wake. I blame my dad for this. He made me a Pirates die-hard supporter early on in life. I had little choice in the matter, like a circumcised baby boy, you just kind of have to accept when this happens to you.

In a way I'm happiest and most frustrated when watching sport. Happy because I enjoy it so much and frustrated because it makes me feel a lot of things so easily. It really is like a movie, just that you’re a little bit more invested in its ending.

Maybe this is my ode to sport, or an acknowledgement of others like me, I don't know.

Thank you for being cruel sports-loving machines. You keep this life thing interesting.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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