Ask most football fans over the age, say, forty, and they’ll invariably tell you that football isn’t what it once was. And that’s undeniably true: the sport has changed in many ways, mostly for the better (look at the state of football culture in the 1980’s as a comparison, for example). But more than the changes, older fans lament that there’s now a disconnection between the sport and the fans. It’s a well-troped idea, but is it true? Below, we take a look at a few ways in which fans might actually feel closer to the sport than in the past.
A Full-Time Sport
In the olden days, football was a big thing, but it was only a national thing once a week – at 3 pm on Saturdays, which is when all the games were held. As soon as the match was over, you’d have to wait another week to get your football fix. Today that seems unthinkable: football, by and large, doesn’t stop. There are sometimes games five days a week, and even if there’s not, the rolling news ticker never stops anyway. It’s a full-time sport, rather than a part-time sport.
Football is also much more interactive than it used to be. Way back when, people would watch a game, go home, and then talk about it with their friends and family. Now, they can participate in any number of ways. They can give their views on the game on social media, or on a football phone-in, or create their own video with their views about the game. They can use sites like Sportsgambler.com to learn how to bet on the matches. They can play fantasy football, developing an interest in the sport beyond their own team. In other words: there’s a whole bunch of ways for people to exercise their love of the game.
Closer to the Players
Of all the charges levelled against modern football, it’s that footballers are too disconnected from regular fans. They say that, in the old days, players would get the bus with the fans to the ground. But let’s be real: that hasn’t been true since the 1950’s, and even when it was true, it wasn’t because the players loved talking with fans: it was because the owners kept all the money for themselves. Now, fans can feel closer to the players, through social media. If you love a player, then you can send them a message via Twitter or Instagram. And actually, many players do see and respond to these messages! We don’t think players in the 70’s or 80’s were doing that.
It’s odd for any football fan to lament the “death of football,” when the sport actually seems to be in better health than ever. Football fans exist up, and down the country, more people than ever are going to games, and it receives more national coverage than the vast majority of other sports combined. We say, look to the future, and enjoy the game!