I was having a mini-rant on Twitter recently on the value of balanced opinion and the near impossibility of their being unbiased views within any fan base. I reckon this is because  of one, overriding emotion that dictates every single one of our lives, not just our support for Arsenal. I decided to write about it...

Everyone now knows that the Arsenal fan base is divided and the petty arguments are a plenty. Gangs of acronyms do battle with one another in cyber space and even, as I’ve sadly heard recently, at actual real life football matches (an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley no less). So, although we can poke fun at the whole ridiculous thing, it’s now actually reaching a rather serious point and it’s something that would shame any football club that prides itself on class and respect *cough* Arsenal *cough*. At the moment it seems many are incapable of things like respecting one another’s opinions, taking a step back and putting forward reasonable, rational arguments and, most importantly, remembering that at the end of the day we’re all on the same side.

It must be love.

There’s no emotion more powerful than the one that, in this case, bounds football fans to their clubs. Love is the driving force behind all of our support, our views, our tweets, our blogs, our arguments, our name-calling and our ultimate desire to see Arsenal on top again. I’m sure it may be harder to stomach for some of the ‘arder fans out there, but it does really all come down to feelings and emotions and sh*t, y’knowwhatImean? What’s harder than accepting that love is ultimately the cause of every passionate effect is controlling and channeling those passions. In fact, it can be really bloody difficult because it requires a level of self-detachment in order to assess and understand the bigger, two sided coin that is debating topics. Actually breaking away from the straight and narrow path that one finds themselves on and not allowing false pretense to become the scenery around you takes an open mind, unclouded by love.

Is it even possible to stop love infiltrating your conscience entirely? No, but I believe there’s certainly the potential to be at least a little less clouded by emotional ties and it can make all the difference. Love is essentially playing the role of both our shoulder angel and shoulder devil; it works to empower us and to destroy us. This stunningly beautiful two-faced bitch infatuates people and then, if not controlled, corrupts them. Of course, putting this into the context of football fandom, which end of the dreaded spectrum people end up is determined by them, their tendencies and what they value most as a fan. These very tendencies and values make up the individual and their opinion, which is one of the most beautiful things about the beautiful game, but when love leads to other emotions such as anger, these opinions can be wielded like self-righteous swords.

The controlling of one’s emotions requires a certain level of emotional intelligence (intrapersonal intelligence), which is a subject I have written about before. This also helps one identify and assess the emotions of others too (interpersonal intelligence), thus giving a clearer and wider view of the general feelings regarding a certain situation. It may then seem obvious (as it did to me) that building one’s emotional intelligence is conducive to a much more contained and controlled approach to all aspects of life, but especially those which are dictated by emotion, such as supporting a football club. But emotional intelligence doesn’t come easy to everyone and some people really struggle with conscious emotional understanding. We’re all different human beings after all. At the same time, it’s clear to see which fans do have a higher level of emotional ‘understanding’ (which actually sounds better to me than ‘intelligence’) in the way they approach issues and debate, even simply when they are having a laugh or taking the piss.

Whilst thinking out loud on twitter, I raised a point about balanced views and thus argument and it was pointed out to me that being ‘balanced’ is subjective. This is very true and everybody does have their own stance on what ‘balanced’ really is with regard to opinions on Arsenal. But in an attempt to define my personal view of ‘balanced’, I refer you back to the previous paragraph and the idea of emotional understanding and how it allows one to step back, think, feel and assess instead of blaring any sort of rushed, irrational garbage that simply ends up covering the whole debate in a foul oder that it is then hard to get rid of. I’m not really being specific (particular issues/debates) when I talk about being ‘balanced’, I’m simply alluding to the ability to clear one’s head and see the matter in hand without too much emotional interference.

Having said all of this, I must bring love back into the equation, but in a good light. I believe that the love we have for Arsenal is unbreakable and incredibly powerful as a source of both physical and intellectual expression. For this reason, it is the best thing about football and it’s essential to the game. It can become a menace and it can be hard to see past the cloud of passion that it produces, but if you try and if you can, it makes for more civilised, interesting and ultimately harmonious debate to enjoy nearly as much as the pint that goes with it. Nearly...

Billy Dunmore.