Opinionista Ejaz Khan 18 August 2014

Want to enjoy game of football again? Ditch social media!

We’re so busy live tweeting every damn move that we don’t really pay attention to the game anymore. How about we put our phones down and actually start, you know, watching sport?

“@LFCtweet_the_wholegame: What a pass by Coutinho #passmaster #lfc”

“@Stating_the_obvious: Johnson sprints forward, loses ball, jogs back again without a care in the world smh #lfc #wegoagain”

“Sterling!! 1 – 0!! #LFC #LIVSOU” (not actual tweeps or tweets)

Ball-by-ball updates as you scroll down your Twitter timeline on Matchday. Seems normal, doesn’t it? Almost feels like it’s been this way forever. It hasn’t, and I think we will do well to bring those old days back, for our own viewing pleasure…well, at least I will be challenging myself to do so, this season. Note: You can interchange “football” with any sporting code today. It’s the same across the sporting spectrum.

What if I told you that we are missing out on more of the games messing around on our smart devices while the action unfolds? Not anymore: I’ve been freed; I’m like Neo escaping the bloody agents of distraction, and Robert Marawa is Morpheus.

The reason for me writing this column is only because fairly recently my phone froze up and I regrettably (at that time) decided to leave it on the side-lines for a while. As I focused on the game intensely, certain realisations dawned upon me: “Wow, if I’d been tweeting about Lucas Leiva’s lack of pace forcing him into those fouls on the edge of the box, I’d have missed that awesome save by Simon Mignolet in real time. Had I been tweeting on Coutinho’s (rare) frustrating outing, I’d have missed the clinical placement of Sterling’s finish to put Liverpool ahead.”

So, by adding to the social sphere with our personal opinions on the action, are we not denying ourselves the full enjoyment of the actual LIVE game? Without a doubt we are.

I know, I know. Lots of questions I ask. It’s all about the introspection of the modern day football supporter. But it’s not just affecting how we watch the game; it’s much broader than that. It is also affecting the way fans react in the stadium itself.

Some on social networks are mocking those PSV Eindhoven fans for protesting the Free Wi-fi accessibility provided by the club to enhance their social experience in the stadium. To truly understand their protest, ponder on this for moment: In the past, the fans would react to goals in sheer jubilation and full attention to the actual moment of brilliance they had just witnessed, bursting into song together, reverberating roars ringing out in melodious harmony. Now the supporter is caught between the excitement of the spectacular strike, then “let me update my Facebook status/ tweet my two cents on that goal/ upload an Instagram pic I took as he took the shot” and leaves the real world, reconnecting into the social media matrix to react to the goal with friends/ followers across the globe, on the free Wi-fi the club so kindly provided. It’s hard to sing your club’s famous songs when your head is buried in your iPhone or your Samsung S5. Yeah, you’re ecstatic, EVEN TYPING IN CAPS LOCK, AND USING 3 OR MORE EXCLAMATION MARKS!!! The guy to your left with his Nokia 3310 is not impressed, at all.

Thousands of kilometres away, I will been cutting down on social media interaction during games from now on. It’s going to be difficult, but I truly want to go back to how I enjoyed the miracle of Istanbul in 2005, how (thankfully) my first actual smartphone had only arrived after the World Cup in 2010, meaning I was just taking pictures before and after games (only!) and I was fully in the stadium vibe throughout. It was a much more fulfilling experience and I gave the game my full attention; every off-the-ball diagonal run, every 30 yard pass, every delightful chip… I missed nothing of any value, and I’m keen to bring that matchday intensity back. DM

Interact with Ejaz on Twitter: @ejaz_k


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