Sunday, May 20, 2012

TWITTER: DEFINING THE NEW FOOTBALL FAN?



It is fair to say that the use of Twitter has revolutionised different aspects of football. It has made an impersonal game a more interactive one. Fans can now see the thoughts and feelings of players before big games. They can ask their favourite players questions and cross their fingers for a reply, and every now and then, they might get one. Every now and then we will get footballers genuine unmediated thoughts on a controversial refereeing decision or talking point. Ryan Babel’s picture of Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt and Ryan Taylor’s claims that Ashley Young is the biggest cheat in the league stand out.
Twitter offers us a unique insight to the world of football. An insight that cannot be accessed looking at the back of tabloid newspapers, so much so that newspapers have now begun reporting Twitter arguments as news. Joey Barton inane ramblings are a perfect example of that. However, the emergence of Twitter and increased social media has also given the world of football a new breed of football fan. The hipster football fan.
It seems it is no longer acceptable to just simply follow the league your team is in or to only follow the Premier League and the Champions League. It is now necessary to support a German, Spanish, Italian and French side, while also maintaining interest in what is happening in the Brazilian football world. This new breed of fan does not expect people to simply follow the giants of European football, but take a vested interest in the all Basque Athletic Bilbao and follow the poor season Genoa have had.
Fans are now expected to know who the next Neymar is before the 20 year old has even left Brazil, and anybody who dares state that the English league is the best league in the world will get shouted down with statistics and numbers backing up the German league. Many football fans that use social media will be required to explain why they like a certain player, just liking them is not enough. Statistics and figures are important in football at the moment. It seems that football fans everywhere are required to know a players goal to game ratio and understand Swansea City’s average possession per game.
Wanting to know football in this much depth is great thing for the individual. Following five different teams in four different leagues is wonderful. However, it is not necessary for all fans to be like this. Supporting your team and only your team is perfect enough. It is not needed to understand zonal marking to have an opinion on a team’s defensive performance. Twitter and the use of social media has done wonders to the game of football, in particular the previously mentioned new relationships between the fans and the players, but this new ‘hipster’ fan has became an unwanted by-product, and one which likes to look down on other fans.
By Sam Cook

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