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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“Old” for a football club?: Hertha, please remove it – Sport

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Dear readers, if you visit this page regularly, you are probably a football fan. So you probably knew who we were talking about as soon as you read the title. These surnames for football teams often refer to heraldic animals or other royal mascots (goat “Hennes”), which in turn reflect the name of the club. Journalists in particular are noted for their use, who of course shape the association’s image in public. The image that the designations mentioned in the headline create in your head also characterizes the team/club and, ideally, the football it plays.

And here we are in the middle of it. I do not want to omit here the content of the Hertha BSC club policy, although I have been following it, with interruptions, for many years in a fundamentally benevolent way, and I mostly do not understand it. But that is another topic. It is about the own and external representation of Hertha BSC and the “old woman”. Because that is how the association often describes itself in the texts. There is no other club in Germany with that name. To my knowledge, there is no club that has a woman’s name that now seems old-fashioned. When the association was founded, Hertha was a popular name, as Emilia or Marie or Sophia are now.

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The story is well known, the steamship on which the association was founded was named Hertha after the daughter of its owner. It is striking that the ships were often baptized with women’s names, because the ship was the bride of the sailor. But there were also men’s names, for example Bismarck, Otto or Albert, but it’s always “Die Bismarck”, etc. Imagine a football club called Otto or Heinrich. Somehow it doesn’t fit (although it was initially a men’s sport)!

So now: Hertha. Hertha does not have a heraldic animal, but rather the beautiful blue and white flag that it flies. So when we talk (hear) about our club in a familiar tone or read it in writing, we often meet the “old lady”. Let’s be honest: What do we associate with an old woman? Professionalism, competitiveness, speed, determination, success? Let’s not fool ourselves, rather ease, serenity, slowness and deliberation – and if the old lady is lucky, maybe even respect. Yes, that is a loan from Juventus, the connoisseurs will say, this team is also called the vecchia signora.

In Italy there is probably another, more appreciative view of the elderly, and Juventus also has youth in its name. So that we understand each other correctly, I am not turning against the age itself, I just think that this designation does not exactly help to present Hertha BSC as a modern, success-oriented and professionally run club that wants and needs. be surviving in the Bundesliga business.

Another name for Hertha, “Big City Club”, is relatively new and, of course, English. That initially meant nothing more than “big city club”, but unfortunately it got burned by internal arrogance and is often used ironically and derisively in the media. The unnecessary pass into the hole for the own goal of the year (of the decade?).

So most people interested in football associate Hertha with megalomania and boastfulness or with slowness and old-fashionedness: a steamboat among speedboats. Yes, that might just be cosmetic, but it only adds to a better reputation. Language is always an expression of the inner attitude of the speaker and reflects cultural and social conditions: In this sense, “please remove the ‘old’!

The author accompanies organizational and personal development processes in (university) administration and works as a trainer and lecturer in leadership, communication and voice.


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