Okay, firstly I would like to state that the title refers to my personal preferences and isn’t a generalisation. Football will never die. The only thing that could possibly kill it is an extinction level event!
No, the title is very much an affair of the heart for me. For years football has been the sport I threw my weight behind and I’ve supported my football club, Stockport County, faithfully and unwaveringly along the way in spite of the extremely hard times that have befallen them.
It has always been an interesting and unpredictable game; the source of more conversations throughout my life than I care to have ever counted. There are always shocks and surprises. There are always raised eyebrows and expletives at seemingly unfeasible scorelines, questionable refereeing decisions, memorable player performances (for better or worse) and winners of competitions. On the surface, football has everything.
In recent years I’ve lost my affinity for the sport. There’s one reason above most that this has happened. That reason is money. There’s little more to say than that, but I best had or this blog will be rather a short one.
The amount of money in the sport has reached proportions that leave me feeling sick at both ends of the scale. Whilst stupid money gets pumped into clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and a host of teams from abroad there are a lot of clubs with a proud history that have ended up in liquidation such as Hereford United, Chester City and Darlington (admittedly, Darlo folded because of a moron chairman overspending massively). ‘Phoenix clubs’ are often formed in their place and start from the bottom of the league pyramid, but it’s sad that money is so unfairly balanced that clubs end up in such a position.
Money is the reason for the rapid decline of my club. County went into administration in 2009 and have never recovered, suffering three relegations along the way. They now play in the Conference North; a regional division and the lowest division they’ve ever played in and, despite constant talks of promotion, we’re now in our fourth consecutive season in this division.
Financial mismanagement is often to blame for a club’s decline, but there are some clubs out there who are immune to such mismanagement because the owner has more money than there are atoms in the universe.
The lack of parity and financial fairness across the board is so disheartening and I find myself getting frustrated when watching football nowadays. Most players couldn’t give a hoot about the badge on their chest. It’s literally all about how much they get out of it. I blame agents for the lack of loyalty. They’re famed for having words in their client’s ears because they’re looking for a big payday of their own.
There have been two grand sporting events this summer. In all honesty I had no interest in watching either. England’s performance in Euro 2016 justified that I think. The Olympics is something I’ve watched in the past if it’s on, but I won’t go out of my way to watch it.
Then something switched inside me. It’s difficult to explain what that switch was, but as of day two of the Rio Olympics I found myself watching and watching intently. It didn’t matter what sport it was either; I was watching it and I was enjoying it. It didn’t take me long to realise why either.
These men and women were working hard and doing all they could to bring success for their respective nations. Yes, they were doing it for personal glory too, but there always seems to be a massive sense of national pride about athletes. It was so endearing and there were some incredible moments.
I leaped out of my chair cheering when Joe Clarke won gold in the K-1 slalom; I was on the edge of my seat as Justin Rose played a perfect 18th hole in the final round of the golf to beat Henrik Stenson; my heart was in my mouth when Mo Farah was tripped during the 10km race, but he powered through to win it; I felt Jessica Ennis-Hill’s pain as she missed out on gold to Nafissatou Thiam; I endured some kind of emotion no matter what I watched and it was so exhilarating.
Football hasn’t made me feel that way in so long. If anything it’s just a constant source of disappointment. Sure, Leicester City made things very interesting last season, but it was a flash in the pan and nothing more. I can’t stand the Premier League and I don’t really care who wins it.
Athletics has had its bad press; the whole debacle surrounding the Russian athletes, the numerous stories about performance enhancing drugs, the corrupt boxing judges and so on. The Olympics will have its cheats and greedy people like all sports do, but there is something about seeing a countryman winning a gold medal that leaves me feeling so proud in a way that no England win in football has ever done. I’m not patriotic at all, but I could have set fire to myself with excitement when Jason Kenny won a sixth Olympic gold in cycling.
But it isn’t just countrymen I enjoy seeing win. I was rooting for Usain Bolt to get his nine golds, I always love to see Michael Phelps on the podium and I felt so bad for Oleg Verniaiev when he missed out on gold on the last piece of apparatus in the all-round gymnastics final.
I have become such a fan of the Olympics that it makes me desperately melancholy that I have to wait four years for the next one in Tokyo. These Rio Olympics have been fascinating with some amazing spectacles and the backdrop that of one of the world’s most stunning cities. The World Championships may well become something in which I take a much more fervent interest from now on. I might have become an athletics junkie!
The way I feel right now, I don’t care if I never see a football match again. It’s a world full of playboys who earn so much more than they deserve. I feel absolutely no connection with footballers. Even down at Stockport County’s level it’s full of greedy little sods! I don’t deny that they’ve worked hard to get where they are, but nothing justifies the obscene money involved.
British athletics has justified in Rio why it deserves the funding it receives from the National Lottery. The sportsmen and women get just enough in grants to get by, but that doesn’t concern them because they genuinely love what they do. I don’t play the National Lottery because I have literally no luck and have never seen the point. After these Olympics I may have to start. While I’ll certainly never win the lottery, I at least know I’ll be a winner every four years and I’ll have done my part in contributing to the future success of Team GB.
What are your thoughts about football? What are your thoughts about the Olympics? Am I justified to feel the way I do in your opinion or am I being harsh on the world’s most popular sport? Leave your comments below and I’ll do all I can to reply as soon as possible.