BEFORE we all became completely wired to Facebook like some freaky prequel to Surrogates (I don’t know why I’m even referencing that wretched movie), there was a time when football banter used to take place in the non-digital world, believe it or not.
Yes, I used to taunt my friends in college about how their teams sucked or how my Manchester United totally whooped their @$$es without the aid of a keyboard, keypad, touch screen or WiFI connection. We were old school.
Our verbal jousts used to be as much an instituted part of my week as Friends on a Thursday night, or church on a Sunday. Mondays were all about going to college, finding a mamak after class and starting the trash talk with some buddies over our main rivals at the time, the Gunners and that blasted Thierry Henry.
Though I’m sure college/university kids still do that these days, it seems the main setting for football talk no longer involves a cup of teh tarik.
Minutes after every game, be it on a Saturday, Sunday or even in midweek, the live feed on my Facebook page just explodes with comments about this idiot player, or that stupid referee, or “darn it, Manchester United won again”. You get all the results, reactions and analysis without even going to a football site. All you need is to log in to your Facebook.
And you don’t even have to wait till Monday, the next morning or even full-time to get the chat and banter going anymore. All you need is a laptop or a smartphone, and you can be chatting away even as the game’s being played.
After last Thursday’s thrilling early morning Carling Cup semi-final between manchester United and Manchester City, one of my Facebook friends posted “Who needs Tevez when you have Rooney?” (Wayne Rooney had just scored an injury-time winner) and all hell broke loose with all sorts of comments being added on by other Facebookers.
My brother didn’t even watch the game, and he posted “*cups ears* Who’s talking now, Carlos?” on his Facebook the very next morning from work. It’s old school banter, served the 21st century way.
The Internet and social networking in particular has changed the way football fans experience the game as a community.
Ask any fan, and they’ll tell you there’s no fun watching a game alone and muttering opinions about the game to yourself. Every fan becomes a pundit when they’re watching football, and in a way, the Internet gives us an outlet for our opinions.
I also remember last year’s Champions League final between Barcelona and United (though I try not to *sob*) when R.AGE organised a live chat throughout the game.
Many of those who joined the chat were students staying on campus who couldn’t find a place to watch the match, so instead they were treated to my *ahem* expert text commentary (and some freebies from Nike).
But the Internet doesn’t just allow fans to be pundits – they get to be the managers. Fantasy football has been around for many years now, keeping husbands away from their wives and employees away from their work.
It created a new, more-addictive-than-crack world for fans. Before I completed my fantasy football rehab, I’d spend the whole week researching which players were spotted drinking soda or having a burger so I wouldn’t pick them.
The English then brought it all to a whole new level last October when they broadcast the England-Ukraine World Cup qualifying match exclusively on the Internet, live. What was once inconceivable, was suddenly a reality.
Now you have iPhone applications that remind you when your team’s next match kicks off, send you goal alerts, and even provide live match commentary when you’re stuck at that distant relative’s wedding pining for a TV set that isn’t playing one of those cheesy Chinese karaoke MTVs with the meadows and plains and soft lighting. Who knows?
Ianyways, maybe all these problems will be gone one day and we’ll be watching, reading, chatting and arguing football all from our cellphones. Hopefully they would’ve integrated pocket LCD projector technology into cellphones by then so we could watch it on a large screen anywhere. Or maybe our cellphones would be hooked to our optic nerves. Hmm …
Tell us what you think!