Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Is Twitter ruining football?

A guest post today as Paul Fisher wonders if football isn't more enjoyable when watched far from the maddening crowd of social media:

I may only be 20 years of age but I feel like I have already been through about five decades of life. The way that technology has grown and evolved over the years is something that I have come to despise. Without the internet, you wouldn’t be reading this but is it really necessary for every game of football that is shown live on television to have a running commentary on Twitter? Every pass, shot, save and tackle is scrutinised, as well as moaning about the commentators, managers, fans, singing and anything else that that person doesn’t like.

Whatever happened to having the boys round, grabbing a few beers, putting on a couple of bets and enjoying whatever game was happening that day?

Twitter has become some sort of football devil. I do enjoy the breaking news aspect of following people in the know with the game but it becomes increasingly annoying when one player scores a goal and then I have to scroll so far up my timeline to see anything other than his name. The tipping point for me came during the Ukraine v Sweden match in the first round of games at EURO 2012 when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored and then Andriy Shevchenko scored twice. I couldn’t see anything at all except “ZLATAN” or “SHEVA”. It got me thinking.

I have reported on football matches before and I have found it extremely difficult to be able to tweet updates and take full and substantial notes at the same time. This has become the norm for many reporters at local, national and international level. Of course the professionals who have full access to highlights will have an easier job of doing this but what is there to stop them just using their tweets as notes to help make their report? I have seen this happen on a few occasions, especially on matches that are rarely reported in national daily newspapers, such as Youth Cup Finals and Scotland Under-19 and 21s games.

Yes, there is an element of the game's support that wants to see the game as it happens if they can’t watch it live or on television but where does this stop? In my eyes, it doesn’t.

Over the past couple of years the bloggers v journalists argument has reared its ugly head on a good few occasions. There is no doubt that when writing an article or speaking about football you are not going to be met with 100% agreement from fans and colleagues but the way some people go on, they think that they would always be able to do a better job; this is when I start to disagree.

The vast majority of these people, unless they have proper journalistic training, will have very little in terms of training professionally of what these people do. Yes, bloggers can write an opinion piece on whatever they like; journalists can’t simply write about what they like as they have a job to do and deadlines to meet.

I hate (not a word I use often) people who criticise commentators. It is one of the most difficult things to do. What I tend to see a lot is Scottish people moaning about the English pundits and commentators talking on an English Channel to mainly English viewers about the English National Team. I know it can get a bit repetitive but would they be moaning if this was Scotland? I doubt it. I can safely assume that when the games are being shown in the other European countries, their pundits like to talk about their countries chances and focus on them when still talking about the game that’s on at the time.

Whether you have one or one million followers I feel that there has to be some sort of balance, if you want to talk about a game excessively then do so with the people in your company rather than annoying people on Twitter with every single little detail. I have seen myself un-follow a good few people purely for this reason. Recently, a few websites have set up "Live" accounts on which a designated ‘Tweeter’ signs into the account and takes the followers through the action, again, I only think this is necessary if the game isn’t live on television or isn’t readily available to the public because, being honest, if you’re watching a game and you’re constantly tweeting about it can you really be watching the game? No!

To the question: "Is Twitter ruining football?" I don’t think a definitive answer can be given by purely one person so I asked Tom Hall what he thought and he said:

"One of the things that annoys me is the po-facedness of so much on Twitter. People seem determined to suck the fun out of the game. It's 22 overpriced men-children chasing a ball about for fuck's sake. We're supposed to laugh at most of it."

I don’t think I could have put it better myself, why is everyone so eager to find the bad? Football is, first and foremost, a game that is played for enjoyment of fans and players, never mind business and all that jazz for a second and think of a world without football just about every day. What would you talk about at work, in school, in the pub or sometimes to complete strangers?

Please, I beg of you, don’t ruin what we have. Football is sacred but if this continues down the same road I can see myself being disillusioned in the not so distant future.

You can follow Paul on Twitter (for as long as he's still there) @steakheed and check out his Write Club project