With the World Cup well under way, I think there’s one thing that can’t be ignored: the UK is infatuated with football. Of course, in a country that’s incredibly fanatical over football, footballers become another part of celebrity culture, and their girlfriends are going along for the ride.
This isn’t really a new concept. Athletes and professional sports players have always been held in high regard, most famously in Ancient Rome, where gladiators were admired because they entertained their audiences through the always violent gladiatorial games. In today’s world, however, this obsession with footballers reeks of the kind of commercialism that exploits British jingoism for profit.
Whenever football is on the news in Britain, it’s never just about the game. In fact, much of what we hear is about the footballers and their managers, but it’s the footballers who are passed off as role models for Britain’s boys, and this is where this might get dangerous.
For me, footballers are the people who the people running media expect our boys to grow up into. They aren’t intellectuals, and nor are they artists, and yet they make more money per annum than the people who deserve it. Think about it. Footballers earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, but how much of it is to do with the actual sport? The only reason they get paid so much is because they have the same status as actors and pop stars.
I can’t help but think that professional footballers have become mascots for conformity, commercialism, and sometimes jingoism. Their wives and/or girlfriends (usually called wags) are even worse. As far as I can tell, they don’t really love their men. They’re just leeching off their money to get whatever they want, possibly using sex to manipulate them, and using the fame of their lovers in order to get themselves on magazines and on TV.
For the past few decades, football has become about money and celebrity culture. Wouldn’t this be a much better country if footballers weren’t paid more than the teachers, policemen, fire-fighters and doctors who deserve more pay?
The fact that we give footballers greater status than people who may actually matter in your life speaks volumes about our nation’s cultural priorities. Of course, I don’t hate football. I just don’t follow professional football, and despise the fact that boys are expected to be interested in football.
The bottom line is that footballers shouldn’t be used as role models, especially if they’re lives are now just more episodes of our nation’s tabloid-fuelled celebrity culture.