Commenting on Commentators In The Premiership

Arjun SinhaContributor IMay 6, 2008

The role of the media in modern football is an obvious fact. But—as Spidey's uncle would have said it—with great power comes great responsibility.

And frankly, I don't see a responsible media. One could go on and on - with the Chelsea rescheduling furore being the most recent. But my grouse is that the commentators steadily changing the direction of the game—especially in the Premier League.

Recently, Keith Hackett came out saying that diving is no longer a problem in the Premier League. Firstly, the veracity of that very statement can be challenged. But no one talks about how the commentators have changed their outlook to the issue.

What about the fact that many players now play with the intent of being on the receiving end of defenders. I'm talking about two seemingly very different things—diving and looking for fouls.

But sometimes, at least in my opinion, there isn't much of a difference. Some players run through players, or skip past them—expecting the leg to be stuck out.

While, some look for the mere probability of contact to justify their fall—not only confusing referees, but also instilling apprehension in the mind of the defenders, who would, from the next time think twice before even tackling such players.

The whole system is bolstered by the media—TV commentators who, on a daily basis, promote players who not only dive but also look for fouls, calling it clever football.

While, this may be a tactically sound ploy, it really doesn't do much for the game. Footballs are meant to roll on pitches, not players. And even though, such behaviour may be within the laws of the game, is it within the spirit of the game. And even if referees do not have the power (and quite rightly so, to punish such behaviour—to promote it would be equally harmful.

Another tendency of commentators which is quite irksome, is their tendency to opine about decisions taken, with respect to how it undermines the game as a spectacle. Every now and then we see, how commentators grumble about how a red or yellow card takes away something from the game—that it reduces the contest and thereby its entertainment value.

A line has to be drawn somewhere between blatant economic promotion of the league and the fact that it's a game—which needs to be played by its laws. If a player commits a foul, he needs to be booked, referees shouldn't be weighed down by extraneous considerations like what it does to the match and the spectators.

The effect may not be direct but its reflective of the fact that the Premier League has become a money first and game later exercise, in the minds of the media—who attempt to cash in on low recall of the huge fan base it enjoy. In the long run, it'll only promote unsportsmanlike values in world football.