Seeing blue

Last week there was a vigorous Twitter debate on the colour of a dress that some people saw as blue and black and others as white and gold. This kind of thing happens because of the way our brains interpret the information they receive. The colour of light coming from an object depends on the colour of the object itself and the colour of the light shining on it. The colour of light can vary; daylight is much redder in the evening than at noon. But most of the time we need to know the colour of the object not the colour of the light – we don’t want to think that fruit is ripe in the evening just because the sun is going down. So our visual system has developed to make a correction for the colour of the light. What you see when you look at the dress depends on whether your brain interprets the light in the picture as blue light or yellowish-white light. (Thanks to Dr Andrew Schofield for this explanation.)

Something analogous happens in football; fans can watch the same game but see something entirely different. I watch Birmingham City players through a grandmother’s eyes and always want to believe the best about them. I see players having bad games but no bad players. Judging from comments I’ve heard at games or read on forums, some fans view players as ne’re-do-wells who are just in it for the money. I hope we all realise that the truth must lie somewhere in between.

Passionate debate is part of the game; fans forums and phone-in shows would be very dull if we all agreed with each other. But I would like all of us, Blues fans and Blues players, to be united during games. For me that’s the attraction of the game: the players doing their best on the pitch and the crowd supporting them. Yes, there were some hairy moments in the game on Saturday: some miskicks and misses. But there was also excitement as our players went forward and the crowd got behind them. That alone would have made the game worthwhile for me; getting our first win since January 10th was the icing on the cake. I went home happy.

And I was probably happier than, for example, Manchester City fans who saw their Premier League stars display a lot more skill as they lost their game.  Who knows, but maybe their dressing room disagreement didn’t help; a video on YouTube revealed that they had different opinions on the colour of that dress!