Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wenger for the Nobel Prize

I was shocked when Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. I felt it was premature. He's only been in government for 8 months, and hasn't had time to much. It's even more remarkable when you realise that nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize closed a few days after Obama's inauguration. 

There were reasons for it. The committee cited the new mood in global diplomacy, and Obama's efforts in nuclear disarmament. And people have suggested that the prize was given as encouragement to Obama to stay the course, and to push for the reforms that the US require. 

But I suspect that there's another reason behind it, one that many of committee would be embarrassed to admit. I think Obama has become a symbol upon which we can project our hopes for the future. There's a lot wrong with the world at the moment, and for some reason, we seem to think that Obama can solve the problems. It's silly to think so, but we all need hope in something. I think the prize was given to Obama speculatively, as if by bestowing upon him the rewards of great deeds, Obama will perform the great deeds that would earn those rewards.  

Then again, the Nobel Peace Prize has always been slightly speculative. It's not like prizes for physics or chemistry, where theories have to have been established for years before a prize is awarded. The peace prize has often been handed out as an encouragement, to draw recognition to activists who are fighting against the odds and without much outside help. Often, it's not so much about success (how can you award someone for an abstract noun?), as it is about the effort. 

Anyway, in the spirit of speculative Nobel Peace Prize nominations, I'd like to nominate Arsene Wenger for the 2010 prize. He's got a lot of characteristics that the Nobel Prize committee are looking for:

1. He's transformed the most conservative, Establishment club in England into a bastion of progressive thinking and innovation. We're the only club that doesn't try to appeal to the insularity that grips English football, and I think Wenger has played a huge role in that. And I reckon Arsenal hoodlums are the most cosmopolitan of all the British football thugs. 

2. He's incredibly optimistic about the ability of people to better themselves - think of how many chances he's given to this squad, and the number of times he's come out publicly to support them. And think about the number of players he's let go because they would have more opportunities to improve themselves elsewhere. And he's an advocate of free movement of people. 

3. He's knit together a polyglot, multinational team that's a shining example of the benefits of globalisation. Over the past 13 years, it's pretty obvious that Wenger looks at people, not passports. There are about has many nationalities as people in the squad, and remarkably, they all get along - aside from the odd head-butt on the pitch. 

The only fault I could find with him is his relaxed attitude towards child labour. We're a club that actively targets 16 year olds as potential employees. In what other field (other than fast-food franchisees) would this be condoned? It's a slipperary slope from giving a 16 year old a football contract to giving a 6 year old a job in Laos sweatshop. 

Still, I think Wenger would be a worthy candidate for the Noble Peace Prize. Granted, it'll only be speculative at this stage. Wenger hasn't done anything with this squad yet. If he could only win the frickin' Premier League, he'd be a shoe-in. But if Obama could win it after 8 months in the office, why cant' Wenger win it after 13 years as manager?


Vertino said...

Obama should never have won it, he killed a fly, live on television!

Connolly's agent said...

He's tough on flies.