When Mathieu Flamini cut his sleeves off at Manchester United earlier this month, it sent Twitter into meltdown after his wizardry with a pair of scissors was exposed.
It is a club tradition that every player should wear the same length sleeves as the captain. The captain of the day chooses what length to wear. It was a tradition before Arsene Wenger arrived but one which he has embraced.
Trouble is, Flamini likes short sleeves. So he cut them off at Old Trafford and got a telling off from Arsenal's kit man Vic Akers – even though that shirt with a Poppy on it is now raising more money in a charity auction than any of the others.
Flamini was told not to do it again but defied orders and cut his sleeves off before kick-off on Tuesday night. While Olivier Giroud rolled his sleeves up, Flamini clearly hacked at his his with a pair of scissors.
Before I get too worked up, I should step back and realize that if a pair of cut-off sleeves - sleeves! - is the controversy du jour at Arsenal, then that means we're having a much, much smoother season than in years' past.
However, that still means that we have to face the talk, the words and the outrage. We have to live in a world where John Cross preaches tradition and integrity, which is lulzballz considering he's a writer for one of the biggest and most notorious tabloid publications in the world. John Cross upholding traditions as the example and standard for conduct, behavior and actions while writing for the Daily Mirror is like Larry Craig voting throughout his career to withhold basic civil liberties for gay people and then later getting caught attempting to score a blowjob in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
I don't know what's important in John Cross' world. But with the level of outrage expressed from him, though, it appears to be this:
Hacking sleeves off of shirts > Hacking cell phones to get stories and scoops
And in your world, you should probably find more important things to worry about than one of our players cutting the sleeves off his shirt. In the same breath that Arsene Wenger publicly calls out Flamini for defying this sleeve tradition, I hope he realizes it doesn't best serve the needs of his players; why deny a player of his greatest comfort at the time you need him to be the most comfortable - on the pitch, in the midst of a match - to continue a dated, worn-out club tradition?
I know there are people who respect tradition and see it as a form of continuance and honor, and I respect those who feel that way (again, this is an opinion piece). I hope those who fall within those lines also understand that history's been full of traditions that were later discarded because society saw them as needless, pointless and, unfortunately in some instances, oppressive. Yes, Arsenal's tradition of the Captain choosing the type of shirt worn isn't the same as other despicable traditions in our world's history, but it took a meeting of common sense and rationality to look at whether or not those practices best served the greater good. More times than not, common sense and rationality prevailed, and today we look back at those and wonder what in the hell people were thinking when acting in the sake of "tradition."
In this case, the potential disruption of what's been a fantastic season all in the sake of upholding an ancient tradition should be re-examined by Wenger, by Vic Akers and by all of its supporters and decided if it's a battle worth fighting. Considering all the other priorities and problems the club encounters on a daily basis, hopefully this one is near the bottom of the list, neatly sandwiched between "Caring about what Jose Mourinho thinks of us" and "Sending a sympathy card to Andre Villas-Boas."