Football: does it lose its sporting spirit?

There is something about associative football that is very tempting. The game is played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries and has the highest number of television viewers in the sport. What is it that makes football so popular? Does he still have his sporting spirit?


I know football in England both on television and from the stands.

Some argue that unfair gambling is ruining the game. Experts speak of the so-called “tactical foul” as if it were acceptable. As if taking an unfair advantage is okay. However, doesn’t cheating undermine fair play?

You hear about ‘professional foul’ as when you say with approval ‘He took one for the team’ for an unfair advantage perhaps by stopping a dangerous attack on goal. His offense resulted in a yellow card from the referee.

Likewise, “diving” can be blatant. More difficult to referee is the player who drops unnecessarily when there is any kind of physical contact with the tackler. This is more common. When a player is apparently injured only to get up a little later and immediately run across the court to the pitch, fans get very outraged. This is because simulating an injury occurs to cause a stoppage of play and give teammates a break or encourage the referee to coax a red card by ejecting the opposing player from the field.

Some argue that sometimes a “win at all costs” attitude develops and this is killing the spirit of the game, for example by sending the ball into the net with the hand. Better to enjoy football for its own sake than to believe that the only thing that matters is winning or losing.

Being a bad loser damages the sporting spirit

It’s nice to see opposing players and coaches shaking hands after a game with both teams congratulating each other on their efforts. Likewise, the crowd cheers when a player kicks the ball out of play if a player from the opposing team is injured so they can get help.

However, bad losers come up with petty complaints about all sorts of things. When winning at all costs rules our hearts, then we will feel really fed up after a defeat. Discontent with the referee, substitutions, bad luck.

But maybe the opposing team deserved to win in all honesty. They didn’t cheat, but they showed good skill and commitment. How many times have you accepted ‘Yes, we were out of the game, out of thought, out of the race and fought: the best team won.’ Everyone is attracted to those who seem honest and fair. Even children know what fairness is and they get angrier when they cheat.

Verbal abuse in football

Football is just a game. But by being hiding in a crowd, some individuals want to be verbally abusive. They openly express hostility towards players of the opposing team, match officials or people of different races from their own. Some fans have also been known to abuse their players who made mistakes.

Even in amateur play, abuse directed at the referee by some players, coaches and fans may continue. Some parents have been heard screaming and cursing referees in front of their children. Unfortunately, football culture now has its vicious side.

Loss of community sporting spirit

Being part of a stadium crowd can be a wonderful experience. Just being there, and part of the drama and spirit of the game with its thrills and unpredictability, is a huge part of the fun. Living the 90 minutes with its ups and downs, satisfactions and disappointments.

Yet without live football on English terrestrial television, people are watching Match of the Day highlights and seem to be happy just to see the goals, red cards, penalties and not much else. Even watching live football for a fee to watch television lacks the community aspect of football as a sport. Instead of being part of the crowd, the TV viewer is looking at a removed place.

Loss of competition in football

Modern flagship football in England has been changed by pay television. He has invested billions of pounds in creating astronomical wages, transfers and agent commissions. And to some extent all this money bought success on the pitch and a commercial boon. Why else should business people invest primarily in the best clubs in the Premier League? So much so that the others can barely compete and the same few big clubs are there or there at the top at the end of the season.

Income disparities between the various leagues were once narrow, giving teams in the lower leagues a greater chance of winning by virtue of having good veterans and talented young players with various cups open to them. There is now an absolute gulf between the first and other levels of the game.

When the playing field is so uneven, it sadly reduces the unpredictability which is vital to the spirit of the sport. Matches with one of the wealthiest clubs can sometimes become a performance with a foregone conclusion rather than a competition.

Orientation to money in football

The average wage in the Premier League is around £ 200,000 per month, £ 2.5 million per year. Fans are constantly trying to gauge player engagement versus income, commissions paid versus performance. Some commentators suggest that as a result football is now just knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. While it is true that football has become primarily a question of money, it seems that it is ruining the game of the top flight.

Conclusion on the sporting spirit

Sport can be deeply satisfying to play and watch when the sporting spirit of the game is present. This means being honest with ourselves about our team’s performance, showing consideration for everyone involved, celebrating their participation in shared fun, and playing fair.

“Everything that is good and true, right and just, and even honorable, has a strong and hidden power in it to attract people’s minds.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, spiritual philosopher)

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