By Tony Attwood
One of the multiple problems with the way the mass media reports football is that it does it by themes – or what some journalists like to call “talking points”.
These themes are said to be the issues that are on everyone’s lips and so they are hammered away at until either they so obviously don’t fit reality, that they have to be dropped, and then a new “talking point” comes along.
The media’s excuse for pushing football into small theme segments is that the issue (whatever it is) is what everyone is talking about. But the reality is the theme is what they force everyone to talk about because it is simple, and everyone can have an opinion, no matter how bonkers. Try and go a different way and you will be frozen out, or called “out of touch”.
Take the theme of Alexis’ personality one of this week’s “talking points”. Here’s a few headlines
- Exclusive: Alexis Sanchez in furious bust-up with angry Arsenal team … (Telegraph)
- Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez explodes with anger after Chile match … (Sportwitness)
- Alexis Sanchez rowed with Arsenal team-mate Aaron Ramsey (The Sun)
- Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez was FURIOUS after being substituted (The Sun)
- How Alexis Sanchez angered his Chile teammates (Give me sport)Alexis Sanchez’s temper tantrum fuels Chile transfer jokes (ESPN)
It goes on and on and on – there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of such articles, and they are now even moving onto predictions of when Alexis will be angry….
- Arsene Wenger set to anger Alexis Sanchez by dropping him (Mirror)
Most football journalists and pundits have not run a football club successfully at any level, and that does seem odd to me. Some have played football – often with great success – but their critical comments are often on the management in which they have no experience.
Now if we think about refereeing, I have always admitted that I have no experience of refereeing, but I do write about it a lot. However I think here the issue can be seen from a different angle. With refereeing, we can use video to see if the referee has got a decision right or wrong and then consider the implications. Should we just accept that referees are wrong in a lot of major decisions, or can we do anything about this?
Then we can also ask logical questions such as, “why is refereeing in the Premier League organised in such a secret society manner?” and “why are there so few referees in the PL compared with the number employed in other top leagues” and so on.
Of course having people without expertise or experience do things seems to be the order of the day now. President Trump is a case in point: he has a lot of experience as a deal maker and as a businessman, a negotiator and a winner, where bombast and bullshitting can often be helpful in getting what you want. But that does not make him a successful politician.
Of course time will tell with Trump, but the failure of the president and his team to get a reform of health care passed into law – something that was at the heart of his election campaign – suggests that maybe an extra level of expertise was needed in his eam.