Football. More than just a game? Of course it is. What other sport encapsulates passion, anger, fear, joy, disappointment all in one entertaining, at times beautiful package. What other sport brings people together in such a way that John Smith can turn up at a stadium and unite with people he has never met, regardless of their age, ethnicity or gender. In fact what other sport is as good as football?
‘Football unites’ as UEFA says, run by Michel Platini, a quite frankly pretentious, corrupt leader (was good at football though) who’s position of president is somewhat surprising to me. That is the only thing they have seemed to get right. Corruption rumors, bungs and fixing allegations have all been associated with the top echelons of football. Which leads to the proof that football has become so much more than a game. Football has become a multi-million pound business, where outrageous spending, and money, is what drives most footballers these days.
Now you might ask, what is footballs unique selling point? Is it the pragmatic talents that are on show to us every week, or perhaps the unity and collaboration that supporting the same team as someone can offer? You wouldn’t be pitching too much wrong if you were to say that. But like any real football fan, I can tell you that you cant generalize this great sport into just two measly descriptions. Football is like the cool kid in school, everyone looks up to it as a marker, as a role model. The global power that this sport has are comparable to nuclear arms, it is a global brand that Bill Gates would be envious of. And that’s just it, football is different. You can be pedantic and say ‘Oh its just 22 men kicking a ball around’ and this blatant ignorance is shared by a few, including journalist Charlie Brooker, thankfully in the minority. But this minority are missing out, missing the point, missing the goal, much like Andy Carroll come to think of it.
Football attracts the droves, with it being one of the most highly watched events every year. For instance, the UEFA Champions League final in 2009 between Barcelona and Manchester United racked up more than 108 million viewers, a mere 3 million more than the Super Bowl. The popularity of this sport is unparalleled, unbeatable, unstoppable. It has become part of our economy, with its billionaires taking clubs over. The very fact that billionaires are involved in the game just shows the magnitude of the proliferation of money in football. If it was just a mere game, it wouldn’t have players being bought for £50 million pounds, it wouldn’t have momentous finals, it wouldn’t have the following it does. It is as entertaining as a party, just without the bad dancing (mostly), it is as emotionally driven as a religion, hell it is a religion.
If you disagree with what I’ve said so far, first of all how? And secondly, it brings me nicely onto my next point. Opinions. Football throws up so many different debates and arguments that there is never not something to talk about. This multitude of debatable options makes it so much more than a game, it makes it a way of life. The statistical knowledge required to out debate a fellow friend on who’s the better player Mata or Valencia (Mata if your asking) requires years of following, emotional ups and downs, sticking with your team even if they didn’t do good. This results in football becoming part of daily life, a part of the brain, meaning that it can’t be classed as just a game, it can’t just be classed as a sport, it is what drives us through each day, its our way of escaping the stress and pressure of daily life. It is like our pet.
There is a lot of talk in the media about footballers behaviour outside of the pitch. You hear constant stories of them cheating on their wives, sleeping with prostitutes, taking drugs, fighting. Yes these are bad things to be doing (understatement of the century) but that doesn’t mean that every footballer is like that. Its funny, you never hear in the papers about Drogba’s charity work, or Mata’s university degrees. In fact you don’t hear it at all. Footballers are considered role models, yet the media contradict that, and never show the good that most of them do. These underlying issues that the media portray are more examples of how it has become more than just a game, it has become political, and journalism friendly, or unfriendly, as the tabloids are always quick to show us. Damn infotainment.
Its no secret that England has the best league in the world. The amount of money that currently surrounds the Barclay’s Premier League is mind blowing. And advertisers are quick to poach on this opportunity, keen to stamp their brand all over the team kits, billboards, balls, stadiums, you name it it has it. That is why I’m privileged to be living in England, to witness the best league in the world. Yes tickets are overpriced to everyone but the richest of delinquents, yes it costs far too much to keep up with the amount of new kits every season, its like trying to keep up with Usain Bolt. But to be honest, I’m not that fussed when every important game is televised or shown on the tradition that is Match of The Day. And the amount of media coverage that football generates means that the latest football news is never too far away. See, there’s another USP, in your face non football believers.
Our world economy is currently in the middle of recession. The UK is fearing a double dip recession, and petrol prices are ridiculously high. You’d normally have a right to be depressed. But have no fear, football is here ,and always will be, to help us get through these dark times, to offer us escapism from the pressure of daily life. So try football now, you wont be dissapointed. Available on all good Sky Sports subscriptions. Terms and conditions apply.
Or something like that anyway. That’s what the government should be advertising like, might actually help someone for once. Although football is unpredictable, much like Iran is at the moment. What other sport can provide a bottom rung team causing upsets by beating the best in the land? You can go one week feeling ecstatic with joy that your team has won a game, then fall back down to earth faster than a meteor when, the next week your team has lost a game that looked easier to win than Ryan Giggs. You might argue that that sounds like no fun at all, and well sometimes it isn’t, especially when your team just aren’t playing well enough, but that’s part of football, taking the rough with the smooth,winning no trophies to winning the league. And it doesn’t matter what team you support, every true supporter knows its more than just a game. Every supporter knows pain, anger, joy, elation. Every supporter knows.
The furore over players being ‘role models’ is simple to me. I only idolize players for their talent, not what they do off of the pitch. I’m sure you wouldn’t like the press following your every move, and degrading what you do on the pitch as mere ‘kicking a ball about’. I’d like to see them try playing football at that level, see how long they last before they get injured, knackered or both. Whilst I do condemn players cheating on their wives and generally being idiots, I could never view them as role models, as at the end of the day, they are mere mortals who are the same as me, but just a lot better at football. This proves that it is so much more than just a game as there are so many talking points, you cant just limit it to a single word.
by Thomas Brown