Here’s a question I’m sure many non-football aficionados (a.k.a. heathens) have been asking themselves for weeks, as the World Cup runs into its third week and builds to a fevered crescendo:
Why do so many football fans grab the heads, with both hands, during moments of distress?
It pretty much seems to be a universal sign of anguish for footballers, one that transcends culture, language, time zones and generations (one could argue that football culture is its own subculture of humanity, I suppose).
A thoroughly unscientific review of the scientific and popular literature that’s been published on the subject (and there ain’t much) turns up the conclusion by Chris Ulrich, a senior instructor at the Body Language Institute in Washington D.C., who tells an ABC News Web writer that the gesture is called a “pacifier” gesture “because it’s meant to self-soothe in times of disaster.”
The Guardian investigated this critical element of humanity 11 years ago and found:
“They [are shutting] out the world,” says Robert Phipps of Smart Training UK Ltd and resident body language expert for ITV’s Trisha. “They don’t want to see anything, and they don’t want anyone to see them. They want to hide their blush of disaster. Footballers may also collapse on to their knees – all their energy has been sapped by the embarrassment.”
Another expert– a man named Allan Pease, who is identified as a bestselling author and expert on body language– offers the British paper a slightly different theory: “The head cradle is a replication of a mother holding the baby’s head to give comfort and reassurance in stressful circumstances.”
You be the judge:
Or how about this:
what about this one:
and there’s this one:
don’t forget this: