Friday, December 6, 2013

The Psychology Of The Code Wars

Once in a while a Code War article pops up on The Roar and they are generally the most commented article of the day. It is obvious why the code war exist for the CEO of the sporting organization as there are limited resources and the different sports are competing with each other for the share of the market. However, this blog post is trying to analyse why the code war exist for the supporters of the sport who often don’t care much about the economic machination of the people in suits upstairs.

1.      The ties that bind us is the ties that divide us

It is often say that sport is entertainment but although that is an aspect of professional sport, it is a limited definition as video game, movies, TV shows, theatre, music are also entertainment. It could also be argued that sport is any activity that displays any degree of athletic ability but even if that is a component of sport, however people don’t always consider working out in the gym as “sport”. What binds all sports fan together is the love of competition. There have to be individual or teams competing with other individuals and teams. Generally there is a side that represents you and you are supporting that side to defeat the opposition. It is the sense of competition that unites all sports fan together to follow the game but divide us as we are competing with each other. The fact that the codes are all considered to be called a variation of “football” and have historical linkage, it makes the football codes natural competitors.

Also in sports the fans who attend the match often are active participants of the match and often the fans feel they have a role in making their side “win” with their support (such as the home ground advantage phenomenon). It’s not far fetch that people will bring that competitive active support mentality over the internet where they can do battle with the opposition with written words.

Of course this explains why fans of one particular club do battle with a fan of another particular club. However you may ask why they will battle with a completely different sport?

  1. The Code War is the internet fandom equivalent of representative football.

The bread and butter of most of the football codes are club football. However once in a while players from two different clubs that could actually be bitter historical rivals suddenly are united  and become brothers in arm to represent their country or state. 

The Code Wars have fans of competing clubs suddenly become brothers in arm arguing against supporters of different codes of football. The code war has a role in developing a sense of unity within the football community when normally they are divided amongst club lines. As a coincidence a code war article general pops up in a similar infrequent but regular occurrence as an international fixture in association football.

This is in combination with the nature of the internet that also adds to the unity where instead of relying on some degree of luck with meeting someone out there with similar interest, the internet allows people to seek out community with similar interest. The resultant is that the internet represents the most hardcore fans of the sporting community where in the general community; people generally have broader taste and have a higher proportion of crosscoders. However in the internet, where you are surrounded by people who are interested in the same sport as you, bring out the club mentality. That this is Club Association Football, Club Australian Rules Football, Club Rugby League, Club Rugby Union. When this club is form, you are going to look out for another club to compete against and the code war article are a lightning rod to demonstrate your loyalty to that club.

Of course, if there is a code war, surely there must be a winner and a loser of the war. Then why does code wars article keep on popping up?

  1. Person A: Hey, look at the scoreboard. Person B: Which scoreboard?

Often players on the pitch in response to a sledge will respond in look at the scoreboard if their side is winning.  The same is with fans of two different clubs. Look at the scoreboard. Or look at the ladder or look at the name engraved on the trophy. Sure people may argue about the referee or whether one side cheated but in the end what matters in the end is who is leading in the scoreboard and everything else is academic. Two side debate and the debate is resolve when the match is played or when the season is finish before the cycle is repeated next season.

However what is the scoreboard used to determine who is winning the code war?
Is it crowd attendance aggregate? Is it crowd attendance average? Is it revenue the league makes? Is it the value of the TV rights? Is it the value of the TV rights per game? Is it participation rate? Is it international appeal?

The answer to that question is whatever scoreboard shows your side to be winning. The Code War is essentially a sporting match where there are 20 different scoreboards and each one showing a completely different side is winning and people are arguing which scoreboard they should use.

So people may ask, why do people keep on arguing when there is absolutely no way to definitively determine who is winning the Code War?

  1. Everyone is a Winner

The Code War is one of the very few wars where there is no loser. In fact it’s impossible to lose a Code War because there is always a scoreboard out there that shows your side is winning.

Of course I previously mention about measures of the success of a code such as crowd figures or revenue or participation rate which have some degree of objectivity even whether its importance and value can be subjective. Often code war debates revolve around even more  subjective matters such as which game is more entertaining to watch? This type of debate again is something that is impossible to lose. For example to used Association Football and it’s low scoring nature of the game, from one perspective that low scoring makes the game tense as any goal can prove decisive and it makes any attacking move to be a nail biting affair. Or alternatively the lack of goals could make the game really boring as there is a lack of end product to a lot of the play of the game. Which one is right? The answer is both of them are right… from a certain point of view.

Hence two sides will argue against each other and both of them can make perfectly logical arguments without any logical fallacy and then walk away thinking they won the war. You know what they say, everyone loves being a winner. So whenever another code war article pops up, it’s a moth to the flame for any code loyalist whose competitive nature will always be fulfilled as they will always win.

To summarise, the competitive nature of the sporting fan + unity and loyalty to the sports + no objective method to resolve conflict + everyone is a winner will results in a perpetual code war that will never end.

1 comment:

  1. There is definitely that animosity between followers of different codes and they seem for different reasons with different reason for the tension between each.

    League vs Union is a class battle coupled with the belief that because they are similar there can be only one.

    Soccer vs League/AFL can sometimes have a racisim aspect but also a cultural bite. People who like the football in winter and cricket in summer cycle they grew up with. And those that love talking sport but don't want to have to learn something new.

    AFL vs League is a battle of the big boys and I guess concerns about the game you don't like taking over and your game becoming marginalised.