Football is the world’s number one sport. This certainly has a few causes, but definitely also consequences. What these are in detail and why it is worthwhile to think about them should be briefly explained here as a basic preliminary consideration.
Football owes its greatness to one, certainly decisive criterion: that it is so simple. Two people (you can even play alone, against the wall of a house!), a ball, a surface, preferably a meadow, and off you go. The ball is already fascinating as a plaything for children who can’t even pronounce the word. What could be more natural than kicking it? There is also a simple reason why football is more attractive than handball, just by the way: with the foot, control is more difficult. If you take it in your hand, it is actually almost impossible to conquer. Special rules had to be introduced (tapping it, not picking it up again, the seconds you are allowed to hold it, etc.) because this control is too easy. With football, this question does not arise: it can bounce off your foot at any time and be picked up by another player. No special rules required: get the ball out and go, as you could even do without the two (to four) jackets or wooden sticks that indicate the goal boundaries.
Compare this with ice hockey or tennis, baseball or basketball, volleyball or water polo, where equipment for playing, of the most varied kind, is a prerequisite, and in addition, as a rule, certain requirements are placed on the “playing field”, which are not so easily met or available.
Those who do not play football themselves are nevertheless familiar with it. You can see it in every park, on sports fields, on the street, on the beach, on a meadow, wherever: two or more people kick the ball to each other, a game is quickly organised, holding the ball up or penalty shoot-outs, high technique or other forms of play. It goes through all walks of life and age groups, and all over the world.
It is also, of course, at the forefront of the media. Perfect for running. And as well as there being enough operators of a sport, there are enough spectators. Football is the number one, there’s no denying that – even if it’s not so well received in the USA.
Whether it will remain so? Certainly, there are enough indications that it will, its indestructibility pretty much assured by its simplicity. But perhaps there are a few reasons to worry? How attractive is the game itself, at the very highest level? Are there enough moments of tension and goals to attract not only fans of the two teams but any neutral follower of the game?
The consequences of football’s greatness are many. One in particular is that there is the conviction that no one can say anything new. Another is that its simplicity does not allow for modifications that require major intervention. Insofar as it should be the famous goal enlargements of the Yanks, proposed for the 1994 World Cup and certainly hardly a problem for them, one must always bear in mind that the same thing would have to be done on millions of football pitches. When thinking about goal cameras, video evidence or chips in the ball, one must always keep in mind that it would have to apply to both amateur and professional football. If these two areas were to diverge, there would be unpleasant consequences. Perhaps a decrease in large-scale distribution. “Either you become a professional and play real football or you go around with the amateurs, where nothing really works.” “Well then I’d rather not play at all.”
Another consequence is that because of this gigantic spread, which is felt to be so secure, people seem to have relinquished the responsibility to critically examine the enthusiasm triggered in spectators. Football is watched anyway. “Nothing can ever change that.” It doesn’t matter if it’s fair, exciting or attractive. Football can’t be broken.
Maybe it can, if it continues to be treated so unkindly? Everyone would have to ask themselves whether they actually still watch a whole game over 90 minutes without a fan relationship with one of the two teams. You might still turn on the TV – which makes the broadcasters think it continues to attract huge interest – but you don’t watch any more. Above all, people in this country have long since stopped listening.
All of this is given here for consideration, gladly discussed in detail. Football is number one. Football is like a dinosaur egg. It cannot be broken. Neither with a hammer, nor with a hatchet, nor with a saw. But why try to break it at all? Why not just nurture it and make it bigger and bigger?