1900s >> 1909 >> no-55-may-1909

Signs of the times

It is most significant of the trend of economic development that everything that enters into the recreative or intellectual side of life should have become dependent upon finance. Thus we find that the Sciences, Art, Music, Drama, Literature, etc., have all become subordinate to profit, to the all important question—” will it pay ? ” Authors, musicians and so on are not allowed to produce the best that is within them, but must, turn out only that which will pay.

The latest extension of this development concerns sport. The “sport of kings” has for a long time past been dominated by the Alpha and Omega of capitalist thought—profit, but now football has entered the industrial arena.

These reflections are caused by an article in the Football Evening News, dated March 10th, 1909. The article is headed “The Crisis : Will the Players Force a Strike? Purely Business,. Socialistic Legislation of the F. A.,” and is “by J. W. Robinson, (International goalkeeper).”

The first paragraph is as follows: “At last the Players Union is at daggers drawn with the Football Association. I say ‘ at last,’ because it has for some time past been obvious to all who take part in professional football to-day, no matter whether they are players or officials, that a Union which is formed to look after the interests of professional players is bound to fall foul, sooner or later, of a body which, to all intents and purposes, only looks after the-interests of employers.” There you have the class war as applied to football.

How long will it be before footballers in general realise the position, and having done so, determine to do their part in the struggle for class emancipation ?

The writer of the article goes on to compare the professional footballer with the skilled mechanic, pointing out that the former, like the latter, is “employed to do certain work and supply a want by a limited company.”

Accompanying the article is a cartoon which is even more remarkable, for it is a pictorial representation of the commodity form of labour. It shows two bloated capitalists, one a prospective buyer, the other a prospective seller. Between them is the “Pro,” his arms tied behind his back, and fastened to a long chain at the end of which is a heavy cannon ball. The seller is saying to the buyer, “A fine fellow, worth. £20,000, and only costs £4 to keep a week.”

A little more economic pressure and the “Pros” will have to recognise that the only way they can emancipate themselves, and incidentally their sport, from the domination of capitalism is for them to fall into line with the international working class, and organise with them for the conquest of political power, and having obtained that they must proceed to dispossess the capitalists from their ownership of all natural resources and tools of production, in order that these resources and means may be socially owned and used.

The nucleus of that organisation is here, in the Socialist Partv of Great Britain.

H. H.

(Socialist Standard, May 1909)