Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fans, football and TV

click photo to enlarge
So far my football World Cup viewing of 2010 has matched that of 2006 - I haven't seen a single game. That's not because I don't like the sport: I have inherited a passing interest from my father, and still feel the need to know enough to keep up my end of the conversation with family and friends. But I've never found that the World Cup, and the TV coverage that relays it, presents soccer in a form that I want to consume and digest.

The over-the-top coverage is the first turn-off. I do not want to know about the lives of the players, their wives, the new stadia, the machinations of FIFA, the statistical analyses and the rest: it's all padding. Then there's the quality of the football on display which only occasionally reaches the peaks that we should expect from the best players in the world. The fear of losing seems to drive down the entertainment value. In many respects I'd rather watch a game from one of the lower tiers of the Football League.

However, one of the biggest irritants of the TV coverage is the large number of interviews with players. Nowadays these seem mandatory. I imagine they are contractual. We hear their views pre-selection, during training, before the match, after the match. The answers they give to the interviewers' questions are frequently inarticulate and usually repetitious and mind-numbingly boring: in fact much the same as the ex-footballers who present the programmes and sit on the sofas commenting on the games. Quite why TV companies insist on using people who are good at the sport but have poor communication skills I don't know: far better to choose a person who is articulate with a wide understanding and love of the game, someone who can give the viewer genuine insights into what is happening. A newspaper commentator who is far crueller than I am likened interviewing footballers to soliciting the views of the canine competitors at Crufts.

Which brings me to today's photograph of three England fans that I took when I was out shopping the other day. They were accompanying an elderly lady on her electric mobility scooter. Three things struck me about the dogs. Firstly they showed great forbearance. Secondly, they had very placid temperaments. And thirdly, the rather gormless looking bulldog reminded me an England player. However, I am much too kind to suggest whether current or past, or to suggest a name!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.2mm (48mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.2Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On