Boring things: men’s football

Do you remember when, back in January, I started an occasional series of posts about things that are too boring to understand? I got as far as plates and no further. I was going to do lightbulbs but then realised it’s a way more complicated topic than plates. Anyway, this post is about football. Specifically, men’s football.

So. It seems that every summer there is a big men’s football event, and it hogs public space and public attention for what seems like an eternity. Every time you visit a man with a telly, he’s watching the fucking football. Every time you go to a pub, there’s a big telly in there showing the football and anybody who’s not there to scream “wurrggh” at every goal is basically not welcome. If you work in a “normal” office you usually end up having to participate in some kind of fantasy football bet thing. (Men are especially obliged to join in all this bollocks, because, y’know… toxic masculinity.)

And then the big shouty telly-hogging space-hogging event is finally over, and it’s lovely for about five seconds because you think you’re free of football. And then some dick tells you that the football season is “starting” and you think “No no no what the fuck are you talking about? It’s supposed to be OVER! That was the deal: I tolerate this horrible bullshit for weeks and weeks and then it is OVER!”

Today I decided to find out what the fuck all this is about. Football fans will already know, but please: this blog is really not for you.

So, it turns out that the big shouty football event that hogs our attention during the warm months of every single year is not in fact one event. It’s several events.

  • There’s the European Championship, which is organised by UEFA. It happens every four years and last happened in 2012 (so the next one is 2016).
  • Then there’s the World Cup, which is organised by FIFA. It also happens every four years and last happened in 2014 (next one 2018).
    I also discovered that football counts as an Olympic sport, so televised football matches also happen as part of the Olympics. That’s on the same four-year cycle as the European Championship.

Looking at this information, you’d think that international summer tournaments only happen every two years. But as well as the actual World Cup, you get the “World Cup qualifiers” (matches held to determine who participates in the World Cup), which can start as early as three years before the World Cup and drag on for up to two years.

As well as these summer competitions, there’s the English Premier League, which runs a men’s football season from August to May. And the Football League Championship, which also has a season going from August to May.

So you know when you get the feeling that football is always on? It’s because it fucking well is. For ten months of the year, it’s the “normal” football championships. And then for the other two months of the year, it’s some special international tournament, or the qualifiers for it.

You might be wondering why I didn’t already know any of this. Well, like many people I was forced to play football (and fucking rugby) at school. But our teachers didn’t bother explaining the rules of the game, let alone the rules of how the fuck the game gets to dominate British public space to such an insane extent. You were supposed to “just know” and pick it all up naturally. *cough* toxic masculinity *cough*

I hope readers of this blog post will use this knowledge to push back on the idea that we all have to be tolerant or even cheerful about the summer tournaments just because they’re big every-four-years events. Yes, maybe the specific tournament that’s currently on only happens every few years, but the overall pattern is in fact that football is always on, every fucking month of the year. In the past I’ve wondered if I was going crazy because it felt as if the football was never-ending. In fact, I was just observing reality very accurately. It really is never-ending.

Other things I learnt while researching this “boring things” article: Scotland is considering having its main season in the summer because apparently summer has longer days and warmer weather. (Who knew?) But for some reason Turkey takes a month off in the winter.

There probably won’t be any more sport-based “boring things” posts, even though sport is unquestionably boring. Researching plates was kind of fun, but researching football has just made me feel that I’m giving an attention-hogging topic even more attention. I think the world would be a better place if men’s football got approximately 0.000001% of the resources it currently gets, and those resources include attention. Let us never speak of this again.

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5 Comments on “Boring things: men’s football”

  1. addedentry Says:

    Even avoiding tellies, pubs, and offices, I still feel like football is ever-present in the summer. I wonder if this is also because of the rhythm of news, picking out single events but seldom giving a timescale: it was alarming to discover that the Labour leadership contest, which has been going on for over a month, won’t be decided for another month.

    • gryphon Says:

      I know! I was horrified when the news said voting had just opened in the Labour leadership election because, like you, I was looking forward to the whole thing being wrapped up soon.

  2. Julieanne Says:

    Football is always on, and is very boring. Who want to watch a bunch of men running around chasing after their balls? Yawn.

    I totally accept the premise of this article, but the huge irony for me is that as much as I feel football dominates here in the UK, I still don’t think it is as bad as Australia. One of the great things about leaving Oz (and there are many) is that I got away from football, Aussie Rules style but it amounts to the same thing/experience. Even when the season isn’t on, the off season is spent either talking about past matches or talking about future matches. And if you aren’t into football you are considered weird or ‘not being a sport’ etc and generally given a hard time. I worked in places where they tried to make you choose a team regardless of your interest or not (it comes back to ‘being a sport’, come on, you don’t have to like it to take part – ugh). It was so utterly bashed into me day in day out that I’ve somehow come out of it, as I said, finding UK football less intrusive. I think partly because although football dominates, you aren’t considered as weird if you prefer something else. At least, I haven’t.

    But whether in Oz or in the UK, football is boring, boring, yawningly boring. So although I’ve read this article, I haven’t really taken in* when the football seasons & types of it are on. I just assume they are all all year around, and do my best to ignore it.

    *because I don’t want that knowledge taking up important space in my brain that could be used instead for remembering whether I put the bins out or some other boring, but functionally useful, task.

    • gryphon Says:

      I don’t want that knowledge taking up important space in my brain that could be used instead for remembering whether I put the bins out

      Brilliant! I used to work in a very laddish workplace where I tried to join in (to the point of joining the fantasy football league). but was suspected of not really feelin’ it. Once I left my desk for a few minutes and came in to find a giant England flag draped over it. I put it on over my head like a chador. Within seconds I knew whose flag it was, because he snatched it back!


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