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Football and Real Life

by Geordie Glenn

Nice to see not everyone in the world is obsessed with sport. I can put up with certain sports, more individual challenge type sports like athletics or martial arts, but I have little time for the money making bandwagon that are ball games. It makes me sick that a footballer( soccer) is not happy on earning 80,000 a week and demands at least 100,000 a week or he leaves the team, or sporting bodies demand hundreds of millions of pounds from braodcasters to show their game.Meanwhile the sheep fork out 40 a month to watch sport on subscription television and 50 to wear a football shirt. It makes me sick that someone like David Beckham makes 10 million a year for kicking a ball, while someone with real skills like a teacher earns 25,000 a year and a nurse earns even less.

Going back to the sixties, footballers earned not much more than the national average, the game was far less prevalent, and people seemed less obsessed with it than they are now because it was rarely shown on television and the newspapers devoted only two pages to it. As a boy, sports obsessives were often classed as bores, in the same way political extremists were, and conversations contained far less references to sport because it was far less prevalent on the television and in the papers. Same as the way sports television has taken over pubs in Britain.

Years ago the main entertainment in a pub was a jukebox and a pool table, the television was rarely switched on. Nowadays countless pubs have been wrecked with wide screen televisions blasting out football whether you like it or not. It pains me to see two traditional pubs in my home town being stripped out and dominated by huge television screens which make conversation impossible. Apart from the rock pub, which retains its jukebox and whose clientele generally aren't bothered about the big game, all the other pubs in town proudly boast SKY SPORTS ON HERE. I'm sure this is making us dumb down over here in England.

Now don't get me wrong, everyone has a free choice in life, but those of us who want to go out for a quiet drink and a conversation are finding it increasingly hard to find a pub that isn't dominated by at least one widescreen television blasting out some dumb crap like rugby league or a second rate football match. And, of course, if you're not interested in the big game, you're classed as a weirdo, an anorak or gay. ( Last year I ducked out of the local team's cup match and was treated like someone who had admitted to being a mass murderer for preferring to go on the internet to watching " the lads".) The sports I do like such as horse sports, martial arts, marathon running and extreme motorsports are regarded as weird because they're not popular like football or rugby. Eminem might be more popular than Captain Beefheart, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's any good or I have to like him. After all, liking something because most other people do, is a bit of a sheep mentality, rather like people who follow a dictator because they have to. Another thing I find with minority sports- a bit of a laugh as nearly as many people do judo over here as play rugby- is the sportsmen do it for the love of it, not for money. I can remember in last year's Olympics a shooter who was a teacher who had to fund her trip to Athens, there was no million pound sponsorship and five star hotel for her, she did it because she loved her sport.

It worries me that ball games are becoming increasingly linked to what's called chav culture in Britain. A chav is typically someone, not just a teenager, who wears sportswear, has no qualifications,hates anything different or intelligent, seems proud of the fact they're an under achiever and tends to be a football or rugby bore. While not all football fans are chavs, I do admit to watching England play in the world cup( usually the last 20 minutes), most of them seem to have this chavvy outlook on life which is based on acting like a moron and talking non stop about football. Personally I'd sooner talk about a Pink Floyd concert than sit and yap about Luton Town being offside and would throw up at the prospect of wearing a shiny blue tracksuit. As I've said chavs and sports obsessives are a recent phenomenon. Going back 20 years there was no dedicated sports television, mostly highlights shows and racing on the BBC, and sport was a far less prevalent thing than it is now. Similarly only games teachers wore tracksuits and baseball caps were a novelty you bought on an American holiday. I wouldn't say sports are bad in theory, but the way sports, especially football and rugby league, have become massive businesses over the last 20 years and have saturated the television is worrying. Now if they put on mixed martial arts or polo I'd be a lot happier.

Glenn, England.