By Tony Attwood
There is something horribly invidious about a newspaper commentating on the punditry of TV stations. It seems to imply that
a) punditry is necessary
b) punditry is good
c) a newspaper can judge a TV station
d) TV and newspapers vie for giving the real view, the view that matters, about footballing things, and that no one else is qualified so to do.
e) Any view not represented on TV or in the press does not matter and is either not real or the commentary of a person who thinks she or he ought to be a journalist.
This notion that a person is qualified to give an opinion, because that person is employed by a particular organisation, rather than because the individual has studied the subject or because the individual’s opinions have been seen to be valid in the past (after a thorough examination by other people who know a thing or two about the subject) is something that has crept into our society and which is by and large accepted.
And it is accepted because the people who do the accepting are the people who have the most to gain by seeing their organisations as the best qualified to have opinions: in the case of football, broadcasters and newspapers.
But why is a football journalist qualified to give an opinion? The answer generally seems to be because he is a football journalist. It might be argued that he has seen a lot of matches, but then after a lifetime of attending games from the Premier League to the Western League, I might feel that argument is invalid if it excludes me. But am I qualified to give opinions? Well, yes, probably as qualified as the people who work for the media. It doesn’t mean I know anything, but in terms of qualifications, yep, I guess so.
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And I say that because I know a bit about football and because I can write. I’ve written a lot of books, and a few of them sold quite well. But then so what? I’m not sure that writing proves anything much. I enjoy it, and people pay me, so fine. But anything else? I doubt it.
But the fact remains that the pundit has the position of power and authority because he is a pundit. Not because he is knowledgeable.
Undermining their own position that those who give commentary actually matter and are good commentators, newspapers do like to criticise TV commentators. However TV commentators don’t comment upon newspaper commentators, because TV projects the image of being all-powerful and all-knowing. After all it is the TV companies that decide what matches to show and how to show them (within the confines of the Premier League rules of course but they don’t mention that.)
So the Guardian gives us a run down of ITV and BBC commentators, and yes it is a fun read which occupies a few moments while awaiting one’s lunchtime guest and quaffing a passable Merlot.
But what is worrying is that lurking under the surface is the notion that somehow the Guardian is uniquely qualified to judge BBC and ITV, and BBC and ITV don’t have to judge the Guardian because they are the supreme, sublime arbiters of public opinion.
No one of course represents my view that the world cup should be boycotted by all the media because it is run by Fifa, and Fifa is by and large run by crooks who have stolen vast amounts of money that could otherwise be in football. And that the FA is a ludicrously incompetent organisation that throws taxpayers’ money at the Fifa crooks with bids to get the World Cup in England.
Given the choice I would as soon have the money I pay in tax each month used to create jobs that pay proper wages and remove the need for food banks, but then I suppose that is just old left wing idealism.
Just in case you want to know what the Guardian says. here are the top and bottom rankings:
- Slavin Bilic: 9.5 / 10
- Mark Chapman 9/10
- Patrice Evra: 1.5 / 10
- Phil Neville: 5.5 / 10
- Didier Drogba: 5.5 / 10
- Ryan Giggs: 5.5/10
Maybe Untold should judge Guardian writers on football in the same way.
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