Thursday, 13 December 2012

How the booing culture is ruining the modern game

A non-tech post here but give it a go :)

As Arsenal were roundly booed off at full-time after their defeat to Swansea a couple of weeks back it struck me that I'd heard plenty of booing this season - and far too much of this has been directed towards the supporter's team. Is it just me or did we rarely hear the noise with that intention at games 10 years ago? It has become commonplace to boo a side for losing to a team that common-sense suggests they should beat. We've seen this with Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and even my beloved Newcastle recently and I believe it's a bigger problem than we think.

It's a difficult area. Obviously when you pay your money to watch a game you have every right to behave how you feel appropriate - assuming its legal. The cost of a football ticket in the Premier League - especially in London - is astronomical. For a Dad and his Son, a matchday experience at a London-based Premier League ground can easily cost £100. And maybe the money is key behind this booing culture. After all, who's going to be more annoyed - someone who has paid £60 to see their team lose, or someone who has paid £30? The majority of the time it will be the former. With heightened expense comes heightened expectation and therefore more irritation when that expectation cannot be matched. Do lower league teams experience the same reaction to a defeat? No. So that would suggest that the key variable is money. 

Unfortunately this leads me to suggest that the emotional connection to our clubs, especially in the higher leagues, is reducing. Brutal - yes - but I believe a reality. The idea of supporting your team through thick and thin is threatened when you expect a certain amount for your money. No longer is football about enjoying a game when that expectation is so prominent.

I suppose it can be likened to a bad restaurant experience. If you feel you have received far below the quality you have paid for - then you complain. Fine. Absolutely no problem with that. There is however a key difference between the restaurant analogy and booing at a football match: There is an end goal with a complaint to a restaurant - be it a refund or a meal for free. This end goal is not so apparent in a football match. Which begs the question: What does booing actually achieve?
     If you boo your own player, manager or team - what are you hoping it will do? The argument that it is 'letting the team know what is unacceptable' doesn't wash with me. All of us have played - and you know full well when it's not going as you'd hoped. Booing simply applies pressure to a team who need support; however hard that may be. Fans are very fickle and quick to forget the recent history of their club. As a Newcastle fan I should be supportive of a team that have been going through a bad patch after delivering us such unexpected success last season. Andre Villas Boas and his Tottenham side were roundly booed after just one half at White Hart Lane and Chelsea... Well, what can you say? All of these clubs have experienced change that will affect what happens on the pitch.

I understand it's difficult because fans don't get the chance to interact with players on a personal level and if a team is underperforming then how do we as fans get that out of our system? That is up to the individual - be it on social media (although not by abusing the players on there - that is a different irritation of mine), down the pub or wherever. Just before you boo a team next time, don't follow the crowd, just stop and think whether it will help and if its justified. I think you'll find that the majority of the time - it isn't.

If you wish to complain, seek other channels and leave it away from the 90 minutes we all enjoy each week - it doesn't help anyone.

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