As with many things social media driven, such as pictures & video, football opinion seems to now be equally susceptible to online viral explosions!
Last Monday night, Manchester United played Chelsea in a high profile Barclays Premier League match in which the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. I watched the game in my Parents house and didn’t have access to Twitter or Facebook during the game. I enjoyed watching David Moyes’ side probe & push to find a way to unlock Jose Mourinho’s well marshalled & organised Chelsea outfit. There were many subplots, the two Managers facing off for the first time this season and Wayne Rooney facing his potential future employers. All of that added into the mix of tense tactical battle meant I certainly wasn’t bored.
By the time I got home though & logged on to my various social media accounts, I was surprised at the vast amount of negative comments surrounding the game. Granted it wasn’t a 4-4 thriller with non-stop goal mouth action but if that’s all that’s considered the beauty of the game these days then surely the game is in trouble.
What was noticeable though was that the perception of the game being rubbish was intensifying with every tweet & post that was sent. There was little substance to most of it. No explanation as to why it was considered poor quality and no mention of frankly some magnificent moments of defending or organisation which are elements of the ‘art of football’ which I’ve personally always found intriguing & enjoyable in equal measures.
So I began to wonder about modern football and entertainment. Does entertainment now mean more than the art of playing the game to win or not lose as is often the case? Did it always?
Or perhaps it’s just saturation point with TV viewing causing a modern football effect. There’s so much football on now that the probability of seeing goals scored is extremely high compared to the days with one live game on a Sunday that may or may not live up to expectations. Are the new breed of young football fans just pre-progammed to appreciate high scoring goal fests over tense tactical affairs? Maybe.
But it’s not just TV audiences who seem to have strong views on what’s enjoyable or not. I often meet genuine football fans here in Ireland who say things to me like “I don’t watch League of Ireland or Women’s Football because the quality is poor. It’s boring”. Ironically, sometimes the less ‘quality’ in the game in my experience can often make for far more entertaining football if that’s what you are after. There is no doubt there is great excitement in watching athletes in the Champions League or FIFA World Cup at the peak of their powers but in truth, I simply just enjoy watching the game in my local park, stadium or HD TV and in it’s various guises of course: 11-a-side, Futsal, Beach etc
I am rarely (I’m almost inclined to write never) bored with competitive football. I might find the odd pre-season or meaningless International friendly on the boring side due to attitude towards the game but when it comes to watching competitive action (youth, senior or women’s) it is usually the game itself and not just the outcomes that I find most interesting. That’s not to say I analyse games like I do when I am coaching for example, it’s just more of an appreciation of some of the finer things in the game that contribute to my overall enjoyment.
As the biggest song of the year by Robin Thicke asks (well not exactly!), is it just the ‘blurred lines’ between entertainment & the game itself that creates the universal perception of a game being boring? Are we being swayed by the popular social media views on our timelines than our own understanding & love of the game.
Perhaps we should experiment with this? Maybe we should all write a match report from the next big game without listening to match commentary or popular social media trends just to see the different angles we all take. The real true beauty of football and fan culture is the individual views on the game we all have. These spark & promote healthy debate about the game we all love. And of course, only we can see the game through our own eyes.
I just hope we never lose that ability to dodge boredom and we can still enjoy the game for what it is for many years to come.