GRUMPY ABOUT SPORT
It is a fact that SKY Sport have forty TV cameras at every Premiership match in the UK so every single game gets filmed from start to finish. All forty of them are lined up down one side of the pitches with a couple at either end behind the goal to film kick-outs and goals from a different angles. Then on match day, one, two or even three games are shown on the SKY channels. These include studio build-ups to the games themselves and interviews afterwards. Even "Match of the Day," on BBC gets its footage from SKY that night.
SKY then gets its subscriptions from you and I, the punters, and that part-funds their company. Their other funding source is advertising and that is the biggie that pays SKY, the competing football clubs and their over paid prima donnas. The advertising rates charged are based on the viewing figures and that is back to you and me again. Betfair, Carlsberg and all the rest of them are depending on catching us at half-time and hammering their varied messages into our sub-conscious in return for a bucket of money per second from the advertiser.
That whole charade kicks off again next weekend and for nine months afterwards, twenty UK teams will vie for the league title, playing each other at least twice over the period. Add to that the various domestic cups and two European titles and that's a lot of football matches. Nearly fifty years ago I took an interest in Liverpool FC and over the years I saw highlights of some of their games from time to time. Then in 1992 SKY Sport arrived and the possibility to view almost all of their games week after week. I confess to have fallen into this trap and becoming an avid viewer.
I recall the SKY subscription started at about €25.00 a month and for that we got hundreds of new channels with fuck-all on any of them. But we did get SKY Sport and for my soccer-mad son, it was a little heaven in a hellish school week. Sunday lunch was served in the sitting room in front of the TV all winter and Christmas dinner each year gave way to a phenomenon called "Boxing Day Football." The subscription crept suspiciously up as time went by but it was deemed worth it. But all of that has gone to hell in a handcart now.
A couple of years ago along came BT Sport and the necessity for another subscription. There was a third one called Setanta Sport too but I just didn't opt to get in either of them. Many of the games I would have liked to have seen were shown on these maddening new channels and I either went to the boozer to watch or I missed them. Then Liverpool FC set up its own TV station, (as did Chelsea, United and some others too). They too want a subscription from you so now, if you want to follow a single team remotely on the goggle-box, it costs a fortune.
The same happened with Rugby and the Heineken Cup as well. In true tribal fashion I began to support Munster but the games now are all over the place. My point therefore is that this punter has been priced out of the supporter's game completely. I could afford the pleasure still and have several different subscriptions but do you know what, it's not worth it anymore. The fun has gone out of it and instead, it has become like so much else in our lives. It's all about the money and to hell with competitive sport. Greed has taken over and big corporates are fighting for a slice of the action. It's rats fighting over the same piece of cheese and for me at least, they've spoiled the cheese.
I am mentally struggling with a sports-free winter ahead and I think if I lived alone, I might even get rid of the telly altogether and buy a really good radio, perhaps putting up a professional ariel on the roof for flawless reception. When supporting your chosen team becomes a hassle and requires changing your free time around to even get see them play a bloody match then you are better off without it. So I have begun to consider what life would be like without something I have enjoyed for years. Take for example a Liverpool/Man Utd game with a Sunday kick-off at 3.00pm. Coverage begins at 1.30pm and it gives you team news, club rumours, Manger's opinions and pundits debates on the relative merits of both sides. During the ad-breaks I hop up and check on the progress of the Sunday roast. The game typically takes 90 minutes with an added 15 for half-time so that's 4,45pm then and after that there is further hour of chat and playbacks to enjoy taking me all the way to six o'clock on Sunday evening, and darkness has fallen. That is only one single match remember and a whole day gone because of it.
Somehow with the prospect of such a day ahead of me I have always mentally written off that Sunday as a non-day. Now it will have to become extra free time and that's a big upside. The more I think about it the more it is beginning to appeal to me. One aspect that really appeals is that these greedy television company bastards with their exciting flickering screens aren't going to earn a single penny from this eejit. They cannot count me among their viewing figures because I won't be there. My son somehow watches any match he wants on the large computer screen in his room via fibre-optic so he wouldn't miss the SKY subscription downstairs. Herself though has fallen in love with tennis, of all things, (some guy called Novac or something), and I suspect that she'd prefer to see me go than her blessed SKY. So the telly and the basic subscription will remain but I've resigned as a viewer.
I confess that I will miss the red shirts kicking a ball around and all of the other things Liverpool and Munster have meant to me over the years. Even Ferrari have had my undivided attention in Formula One down the years and once, I won over three hundred quid on a treble-red victorious weekend of action with only a fiver placed. But I have no interest in betting as a rule so I won't miss that angle. But it's all just turned into a money-making racket and for the last few years I have been paying into it without thinking so I intend to bring that all to an end this season.
And with all the extra time that it will afford me, I will need to do something else instead. This made me wonder if there are loads of other grumpy maggots like myself out there who have lost their patience with televised sport. I'm talking lads and lassies who have always been die-hard supporters of some club or other, it doesn't matter which color or flavor and in fact the sport doesn't matter either. You see, my idea is to set up on-line a new grouping called, "The Ex-Supporters Club." I envisage a place where disillusioned ex-supporters like me can go to when games/races/competitions are on pay-TV. Think of it as a rescue space for grumpy ex-supporters to meet their own kind and moan and bitch for the duration. The 'support' in ex-supporters could take on a new meaning as we support each other through the withdrawal period. There could be 'forms' or talking workshops with names like, "What did I ever see in that shite?" or "Graduating from the mundane," etc.
It's work in progress right now but I'd welcome suggestions, (and encouragement of course).