Football doesn’t cause the problems in our society but it does reflect them. The obscene amounts of money paid for players in the days before transfer deadline day reflects the greed on display in our society in general. A Doncaster fan’s description of transfer deadline day on Sky reminded me of why I just have Freeview.
Football rivalry also mirrors the dangers of a them-and-us viewpoint in society in general. Viewing people as different opens the door to cruelty and indifference to suffering. When we view migrants as not-like-us we see them as a threat. The picture of the drowned child lying face down on the beach has helped us remember that the migrants are people like us and that we have to find a better solution than building fences. The Birmingham Mail published a article on the forthcoming Villa versus Birmingham game, calling for it to be moved to a different time because of the potential for violence between fans. Blues fans who live in Birmingham have Villa fans as friends, neighbours and relatives and most of us don’t regard them as a lower form of life. The violence connected with football is caused by a minority and reflects the alcohol-fuelled violence in our society which is on display on Broad Street on weekend nights.
The Birmingham Mail’s article was, of course, designed to sell newspapers rather than to improve society. The world is changing and newspapers are struggling to stay afloat when so much news is available free online. The TV world is also changing. Sky and BT are battling for supremacy in selling sport and both are facing competition from online streaming websites. I can’t predict the future but have a feeling and a hope that Sky TV won’t last forever. The influence of TV money on football has been poisonous.