…the devil is in the details
THE simple definition for devil’s advocate is someone who puts the strongest possible case against a position for the sake of argument rather than real disagreement with the said position. The devil’s advocate tests an opponent’s argument to the limit often despite being broadly sympathetic with it.
This is a useful technique for identifying loopholes and for avoiding sloppy thinking, because if an argument can withstand sustained onslaught from someone scrutinizing it for weaknesses then it may well be a good one, if it can’t, then it should be patched up. People who play devil’s advocate are sometimes accused of hypocrisy, notably when they offer criticism, which they do not sincerely endorse; they don’t really believe in the arguments they use or else they know the conclusion of the position they are attacking is true. However, the accusation of hypocrisy misses the point and perhaps in part stem from the negative associations of the word ‘devil’ in the title at the expense of the connotations of the word ‘advocate’. Hypocrites hide their true intentions and convictions, while those who play devil’s advocate openly encourage their targets to provide watertight arguments for their conclusions and to take heed of the force of the strongest arguments on the other side. Often, the point of using this particular strategy is to get someone to advance proper reasons in support of conclusions to which the devil’s advocate is favourably disposed – thus encouraging them to investigate the justification for views, which might turn out to be mere prejudices, or perhaps true conclusions defended by weak arguments. This, despite appearances is not hypocrisy, but rather part of the sincere pursuit of the truth.
Yours truly has deliberately chosen the above analogy to enlighten the obtuse hierarchy of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) on the core and basic functions of football administration, including logical thinking and common sense. My experience reveals that those entrusted to rule the roost of sports administration in this country, including the beautiful game of football, have developed a nasty tendency of overstepping their mandate at the slightest provocation. The shocking resolution by the NPL hierarchy to increase the number of teams in the country’s flagship league from 12 to 16 is mind-boggling and cannot be left unchallenged since it does not make any football sense. Not at all! They are scaling the heights of ignorance and sheer arrogance, punctuated by a total disrespect for logical thinking for failing completely to consult. We seriously need to put an end to this tendency to run roughshod over football constituents.
The lame excuses advanced by the NPL chairman and his henchmen should be rejected straightaway, because this appears to be a well-calculated ploy by certain individuals to advance their questionable ambitions, not to mention the fact that the reckless resolution perfectly suits the league’s headline sponsor MTC. Truly speaking, the current composition of our domestic Premier League does not reflect our regional demographics, but the problem does not lie in the format, because there is absolutely nothing sinister about the unbalanced representation of teams in the country’s topflight league. Truth be told, Namibian football is being hum-strung severely by inadequate funding, while the long distances between towns remain another major headache. Having said that, would it be fair and in the best interest of football or the game’s followers to have a team travel close to 2000km from Katima Mulilo to Lüderitz by road to honour a league fixture? The lunacy of such an expectation is beyond rational comprehension and common sense. It should be realistically noted that Windhoek is the commercial and political capital of Namibia and it’s only logical that it will always and justifiably so, have more teams in the topflight league. It should also be taken into consideration that the bulk of footballers campaigning for these Windhoek-based teams are migrants from other towns, the same applies to thousands of other desperate job-hunting citizens flocking en masse to the city of lights in search of greener pastures in the various employment sectors. The majority of teams in the English Premier League (EPL) are London-based, but that does not necessarily make them the strongest or most successful teams in the business. The sextet of Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspurs, Fullham and West Ham currently represent England’s capital in the world’s richest football league – some food for thought isn’t?
Now, the fundamental question that needs to be addressed is whether we are prepared to sacrifice quality for quantity by beefing up our flagship league with mediocre teams for the sake of provincialism, just to appease those who pay the bills. Such a decision will potentially weaken the standard of our football and it is tantamount to cannibalizing our own business. The clubs should have a bigger say in proposals of such magnitude before such reckless and clearly myopic resolutions are passed. The football governing body (NFA) should also come off the fence for a change and pronounce itself on this lunacy that could have far-reaching and dire repercussions for the future of domestic football if not properly and collectively interrogated. I rest my case.