Once upon a time, if you wanted to watch a football match you put on your raincoat, put a pork pie in your pocket, queued up at a turnstile, put down your cash and elbowed your way onto your favourite bit of terracing.
You watched the game as you swayed with the crowd, stamped your feet if it was cold and joined in the cheering and jeering. If you blinked when a goal was scored, tough luck, no replays on the big screen and no pundit to tell you what you had missed.
By the time you got home, if you lived in London that is, the classified editions of The Star, The Evening News and The Standard were on sale so you could check the score and scorers and read a brief description of the game, which had probably been written by some drunken hack who had passed out at half-time.
Nowadays every move, every foul, every goal, every incident is shown and repeated as nauseum. There are a host of ex-players, in sharp suits and drawing huge salaries, just bursting to tell you what you had already seen for yourself.
Referee’s decisions are examined in forensic detail, frequently by pundits who themselves are less than au fait with the laws of the game. Players are castigated for making what these “experts” perceive to be the wrong decision even though that decision is made in a split second often under immense pressure from the game situation as well as from opposing players and in the full knowledge that it has been recorded for posterity by half a dozen or more cameras.
Everyone is an expert, everyone can demonstrate their “expertise” on the many and varied blogs that abound on the internet.
Journalists actually use information and opinions garnered from those blogs in their own columns and for their own ends.
A whole new industry has sprung up around football, there seems to be a compulsion for fans to know every little detail about their club, it’s ownership, it’s finances, the manager and players. When Harry Redknap made a throwaway remark about the weight of one of his players it was instantly “news” and plastered all over the back pages of the tabloids for the delectation of “The Fans”.
In the past a player could go out after the game on a Saturday, have a few beers and a game of cards in the smoke filled back room of his local and nobody would be the wiser or worried. Nowadays a player photographed falling out of a nightclub with his trousers at half mast is given the full back page treatment, his morals are questioned as is his commitment to his club, “insiders” will be ready with rumours about the punishment inflicted by his manager and his agent will be salivating at the thought of a possible transfer and his own share of the inflated fee that will eventually be forthcoming.
Are we as football fans better served by the Information Age? Are we better informed by the opinions of the uninformed? Or would we all actually enjoy the game a little more without the existing level of insight?
Somebody once said “Football is a simple game”. Couldn’t we simply enjoy it for what it is? Shouldn’t we simply enjoy it for what it is?
Written by Norfolk Gooner