It's a game of two halves. Obviously.

I work in a place, a place with people, some of whom have a penis. These people tend to insist on talking about a game, the sort you might play at school or in a park, as if it is world endingly important. As if the mere existence of it will steer us true, light a candle in the darkest corners of our collective soul and set us free. I speak, of course, of football. I should make it clear from the off, that I do not hate football. I can appreciate the camaraderie, the spirit of competition and team work, the fresh air, the athleticism, the feeling of belonging to something. I’ll even begrudgingly admit that I can see the fun in it, if I must. So I don’t hate football. With that point made, I now feel comfortable spending the next 900 odd words explaining why modern football is shit and generally slagging it off.

I am unable to escape from the game of football, it follows me like a popular, though needy, friend of a friend, desperate for my attention regardless of the fact that I am ambivalent at best and that it already has plenty of other mates. As far as I’m aware there is currently some sort of cup up for grabs. I only suspect this because everything in the entire world keeps mentioning it, from news outlets to work mates. Personally, I don’t think sport is news, I think it’s sport. I don’t mind it if there’s a sports segment after the the important stuff but it really shouldn’t be included alongside atrocities and politics. Or political atrocities. It’s rather jarring to go from murder, dictators, rape (to be fair, sometimes that ones appropriate) and disease, to a bit about how those Reds did. It trivialises actual news somewhat and there are plenty of other things already trying their hardest to fluff everything up, like BBC Breakfast for instance.
Anyway, football. It seems to me that it’s not about local teams, the game itself or even a sense of occasion anymore. It’s a business, it’s a collection of corporations pumping money in and sucking money out, and when you do that you also suck out a bit of soul. Surely it should be about people from Wherevershire, gathering together to cheer on a team made up entirely of people from Wherevershire and it’s environs. Jumpers for goalposts etc. Currently it’s a bit more like a wealthy business man buying an incredibly expensive Subbuteo figure in order to beat the opposing incredibly expensive Subbuteo figure, so that more people will buy the branded products that allow him to turn a profit. It’s all a bit spiky and packaged and retail. It’s not about you, the fan, it’s about your money, and it’s not a game, it’s big bucks.
Big bucks are also what the players get paid. Too much. Obviously, jealousy fuels vast swathes of this argument but I don’t plan to mention that, so you’ll never know. They do though, don’t they? Get paid too much, for playing a game well. For kicking a ball well. These people aren’t geniuses, and frankly it’s massively annoying when they’re referred to as such. They’re good at ball kicking, which is a skill less important than, say, nursing, or light engineering or something, and I think it would be beneficial to all if that was pointed out, regularly, during each and every match. Their good ball kicker status seems to elevate them to that of Gladiator, but they’re not Gladiators, not even the ITV kind. You play a soft little game, with a little round ball, dressed in a very expensive P.E. kit. Fuck you. Quite a few of them seem to think they can waltz around being a massive prick, and patently they can, because we don’t really seem to mind, after all they are very good at ball kicking. You have to balance ear biting, aggression, violence, foul language and being a bit rapey, against good hair, ball kicking ability, advertising revenue potential and celebrity standing. But obviously it evens out in the end.
Of course not everyone involved in the sport is a knob, but there are an awful lot of them. It’s almost as if a testosterone fuelled, competition rich, physically minded environment, in which a hugely disproportionate reward and status is almost automatically achieved, leads people to act like pricks. Not all of them though, and I’m not suggesting that for a moment. It’s the easy ride these pricks seem to get within the football-mobile that concerns. Over enthusiastic fans are annoying too, the ones who seem to think that they know better than the managers and trainers and captains and players, all of whom presumably have a wealth of experience and knowledge far superior to them, sat at home with their hand down their trousers.
Still, I’m no expert and, if I’m honest, my ambivalence does sometimes do a very convincing impression of contempt. I’m clearly underlining only the negatives here, but they do seem to be woefully under represented, so I don’t feel too bad about it. It’s all about balance innit, and there doesn’t seem to be enough of it in the genius filled world of sphere punting. If nothing else, I hope at least that some of the conversation at work will revolve around how wrong I am, instead of Henry or Terry. Don’t know their surnames.

Bob out.

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