Have We Stopped Watching Football?

Irrespective of the fact that my beloved City Ground hasn’t welcomed a supporter through its turnstiles since March 6th 2020, I pose the following question: have we stopped watching football as a sport?

It is not the lack of vision that I’m alluding to but rather the way in which many have chosen to perceive the game. We, football fans, and not just Nottingham Forest supporters, seem to have become analysists and pundits during the ninety minutes, and it’s getting more prevalent by the day.

Can you honestly remember the last time you just sat back and took the game for what it is, without dissecting every passage of play and commenting upon it? Whether it be WhatsApp groups, Messenger, Facebook, or Twitter, we seem incapable of logging off whist the game is on.

I posed the very same question to the lads on the @TFFpodcast and the response was unanimous, for once all of us agreed that a high percentage of fans are simply not enjoying the game as a spectacle anymore. Two poignant words that emanated from the discussion were microcosm and compartmentalise, as the boys went onto explain that the issue has been intensified by the fact we are currently watching at home on our laptops, mobiles, and tablets. In isolation and lockdown, the natural thing to do is to vent your frustrations to the nearest virtual soul, I guess.

However, this knee jerk, instantaneous and at times annoyingly persistent updating of tactical insight is doing nobody any favours. If you require any proof just follow twitter from kick-off to the final whistle, I guarantee you’ll incur several tweeters explaining where it’s all going wrong after less than five minutes of play. Here’s the thing, many a time it’s an intelligent and insightful observation but do you really want to waste your matchday experience in this way, and does what you’re doing really constitute being a football supporter?

At this point it’s imperative that I do not get misconstrued or misunderstood regarding my opinion, as always, it’s just my opinion. Which brings me to the dedicated analytic pages on Twitter. There are a handful of specific Forest analysts that I’ve encountered and my perception of them is nothing but healthy. I often read and enjoy the work of @ForestBoffin and @AnalyticsForest, recently I came across @HenshawAnalysis which was equally insightful. This is different because all those mentioned are dedicated to football analytics and statistics and they clearly love doing it. It takes up a lot of their time to compile and classify such information so maybe, like many of the young bloggers out there, they have one eye on putting their skills to good use within the corridors of a pro club one day.

I’d be ignorant not to acknowledge just how much football has changed over the decades, formations, player valuations, coaching, media, nutrition and so on. It’s changed for supporters too; we have bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, dedicated analytic pages, numerous fan groups and AD commentators. Some people just don’t get the whole vlogging thing but it’s an accepted part of the game, once again, the boys and girls who make those videos must love doing it because it’s not cheap to follow your team home and away without fail and spend time editing it all afterwards.

Let’s say we gather up every blogger, vlogger, analyst, podcaster, commentator, and writer; by this, I mean those who are specifically dedicated to providing content, not just a fan with a Twitter account but folks who specifically advertise their title within their bio. How many seats do you reckon the lot of them would take up in the City Ground, 200, 300, 400? For arguments sake let’s go with 300 supporters who dedicate their varying skills to produce content. Which roughly leaves 29,700 or so (don’t @ me) to sit back and enjoy the beautiful game without the cares or concerns of a deadline to meet or a decent internet connection to rely on. I desperately want those 29,700 to take the game for what it is and enjoy it, easier said than done if you support Forest, I get that!

We pay a lot of hard-earned money for our season tickets/cards and I think we’ve forgotten how to enjoy football as a sport. Prior to modern technology, Football fans have always weighed in with their opinion, none more so than over a post-match pint and this to me is a how it should be. In no way am I saying that your opinion doesn’t count if you’re not a content provider, quite the opposite in fact, it’s simply a case of timing and enjoyment. It’s cool to get involved in debate and analysis on social media after the game, as you would in the pub, but I implore you to log off during the ninety minutes and start watching and enjoying football like you used to.

Steve Corry

*Article provided by Steve Corry (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).

Main image @NFFC Lyle Taylor scores for Forest at the weekend which lead to a thousand tweets.

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