Losing the love
For the first time I can remember I'm apathetic about the start of the new football season. It has nothing to do with how successful I think my team will be but instead i've found myself focusing more on everything that is wrong with the modern game - in other words I've lost the love.
It has not been a sudden thing but instead a gradual process that probably started when I took the kids in the rain to see their heroes after training. They queued up for the best part of an hour waiting excitedly only to then have their hopes dashed as one by one the footballers raced passed in their array of high performance cars.
You tend to find the Spanish and French footballers stop to sign autographs but the majority of the English players roar out of the gates and down the road. There wasn't a big crowd - just about six in total but the two minutes it would have taken them to make some 10 year olds happy was something they couldn't or wouldn't spare. Outside the ground after the match they'll do it because there are more fans and cameras present but on this occasion they didn't.
This contrasts massively with Rugby League where on two occasions this summer a Wigan Warriors player who happens to live near to my son's under 9s team came down to meet the players and watch them train. In fact, a couple of the high profile players have been running training camps with young players over the summer. An entirely different ethos from a sport that is very much still in tune with its fanbase.
I guess the third reason is the Olympics. To see the sheer strength of endeavour of these athletes ecstatic just to be there taking part was fantastic. In two weeks they've inspired countless youngsters who want to follow in their footsteps. Ask budding footballers what they see as the biggest attraction of being a footballer and many will sadly point to the lifestyle rather than the achievement.
This isn't to say all footballers are the same or in any way denigrate the dedication they have shown to get where they are. However, when you see the likes of Tevez refusing to come off the bench or players choosing a club on the basis of money or agent fees even if it means being a substitute, it leaves a sour taste.
Being a fickle football fan though, I doubt the trial separation will last but for now I feel i'm taking a principled stance.