Then We Move On

Just a day ago, Marca was awash in righteous indignation over the interruption of a press conference. Today, they have nearly buried the news that all is forgiven by Getafe. Today they care more about whether some Barcelona players dressed as ghouls than the Madrid-PSG match that’s occuring tonight. Today, they’re more interested in stoking the fires in a way that already got Sid Lowe to describe them as having their knickers in a twist.

This, however, is nothing new and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Marca is not some isolated case. AS leads with it too. Sport puts it third. Mundo Deportivo has it next to an external link to a story about an Uber driver being assaulted. This isn’t a one way street, of course: both of the Barcelona-based papers are not known for their kid gloves when it comes to anything deemed “scandalous” eminatting from Madrid. El Pais recently ran an op-ed about how journalists are thoroughly discouraged from being able to write real news by the very teams they cover and whose fans complain of the media attention to minor details. It should also be noted that El Pais barely mention the post-Getafe Halloween nonsense. Yes, El Pais is owned by the same company that owns AS, so perhaps they can afford to be higher-brow, but even so, it’s nice to see.

Regardless, we are not better people for the teams we support, but we can easily be worse people if we discourage proper discourse about or interest in the behind-the-scenes workings of the clubs we follow. To hold the current Barca board up as exemplars of The Way Things Ought To Be simply because they are our board is to miss a few dozen actual scandals, including allegations of tax fraud, outright deception of club members, and underhanded changes to bylaws. I’m not saying anyone does ignore this (though certainly enough of a percentage of the voting base either does or doesn’t care about the other stuff), but that the lead stories in a moment when a Barcelona vice president stands accused of involvement in the money-laundering schemes of Jordi Pujol, are about whether Paul Pogba is worth 290 million euros is also the moment when you realize you’re wasting your time with these news outlets.

Even in a world where attempting to unsettle “the other side” seems to be the modus operandi of the tabloids, actual institutional sickness is not as sexy a story as man-children dressing up as ghouls after a match. Videos of players eating hamburgers on the street after a night out make the rounds, but how many of you even knew which vice president I was was referring to above without clicking on the link? Seems it might be somewhat more newsworthy that the vice president of the “Area of Institutional and International Relations” who is also the vice president of Rotschild Bank and whose wife’s family owns Sabadell Bank is accused of economic crimes.

It doesn’t haven’t to do with football of course, will come the hew and cry of those who’d rather have soundbites than long-form journalism (goodbye, Grantland, my love), but the problem isn’t that the world isn’t made up of New York Times Magazine articles constantly shattering our worldviews, but instead that the minor antics of a few players after a match also have nothing to do with football. It feels weird to turn to the English media (The Guardian, of course) for quality coverage of Spain’s top flight, but here we are. Yes, Santiago Segurola continues to be a must-read writer, but he’s buried somewhere beneath Tiramillas links and other bricabrac that you just skim. Or, well, you do just skim over all that, right?

And here we have the conundrum of the modern football fan: it is actually fun to laugh at Sergio Ramos’ latest grammatical or mental stumble, but every click we make on that story is another time such a story will be produced and, eventually, they drown out the real stories that we pretty much universally believe are important.

For instance: Chelsea is 15th in the league, having lost more times (6) than they have won or drawn combined (5). For someone like me, who really doesn’t like Chelsea (for a variety of reasons at this point, but which were originally based on poor understanding of how status quo hierarchies are created and maintained), this is fantastic news. Reading about Eva Carneiro taking the club and its manager to court brings an evil grin to my face because schadenfreude is real. I joked yesterday on Twitter that it would be fantastic to see Bojan score the goal that got Mourinho fired and I kind of mean it because I am still angry at Frank De Bleeckere and Olegario Benquerenca for their calls or non calls over that two-legged slugfest that ended with Mourinho permanently becoming Enemy Number 1 as he slid across the Camp Nou grass.

And it’s that self-righteous anger, that childish reaction on my part that causes me to click on that story about hamburgers in the middle of the night or care whether Iniesta is a nice guy off the field. It’s the desire to be attached to something great, to be the winner in every conversation, to be able to hold your head up high while you wear your team’s logo on your hat as you take the subway to work, surrounded by strangers who are either in on the joke or jerks who should come stand on the Right Side of History. We click because it’s great fun to click and take a moment—just a single moment—to get the “facts” of a case and then tweet out a nice joke about it. Then we move on.

We’re at that point in the season where everything is either a brilliant triumph that reinforces the inherent goodness in the team or a disaster that shows the gaping chasm between expectation and reality. We’re at that point in history where you’re either immortalized or forgotten, depending on what you did on the most recent weekend and what you’ll do in the next. There is no long game.

Except, there is, if we want there to be. We can smile at the nice things because, well, they’re nice, but we can also take the time to read serious journalism and discuss serious topics. We’re not always right and neither are our opponents always wrong. Let’s try to remember that we can have our cake and eat it too, so long as we don’t fall prey to the clickbait. Or, well, not too often anyway. Because who can resist this guy (not her!). It’ll change your life.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

14 Comments

  1. raj
    November 3, 2015

    My heartfelt thanks. What you said here needed to be said, not just about sports journalism but journalism as a whole (or what passes today in its name). And you said it right – “so long as we don’t fall prey to the clickbait.”

  2. Davour
    November 3, 2015

    Very well said – I agree with Raj: a comment on journalism altogether. We should all learn from Sergi Roberto… (or almost all of the golden generation, save Messi: patience. Hunter writes a nice overview of this on espnfc, an outlet otherwise known for rumour-based, clickbait news…).

    On a different note: watched some of EE-PSG. Man, CR does not look anywhere neae world top 3 (though he will be nominated, of course), and Ibra is also in obvious decline. But Di Maria looks pretty good, I must say. PSG are starting to look dangerous with his contributions, but they need sharper attack than Ibra and Cavani.

    CR whispered something in Blanc’s ear after the game. I’ll bet you a buck that will generate some clickbait speculations as to exactly who will replace Ibra as the superstar-in-decline next year…

  3. georgjorge
    November 4, 2015

    Not the line-up I would have predicted against Bate…playing with only two real forwards feels strange against an opponent that will very likely concede midfield control to us anyway. Maybe Enrique’s trust in/patience with Munir and Sandro has run out? Or maybe Sergi Roberto will prove once and for all that he REALLY can play every position on the pitch, from right back to central midfielder to forward.

  4. deerwithwings
    November 4, 2015

    I kind of like LE lineup (albeit I wish he was resting Sergio). Glad to see TV getting the nod. I think keeping Roberto on the pitch is really important though. He really needed that constant playing time to shine.

    Also, FANTASTIC article Isaiah! This is why I like this blog.

  5. Jim
    November 4, 2015

    Ha ! I thought it was a bit quiet in here, tonight. Still is but it helps if you’re not sitting in,and posting to, the comments in the last article

  6. November 5, 2015

    It must be the first time, I fell asleep after 20 or 25 minutes while a Barca match. Woke up during the half time advertisements, ate something, walked a bit and all, still fell asleep after a few minutes from the second half. Missed all goals too. Cant believe it.

    • Jim
      November 5, 2015

      You know, Fotobirajesh, I was just kinda thinking about that. I watched that last night out of duty, itching to turn over to watch Bayern / Arsenal or even Chelsea. It wasn’t like we were bad. We did everything we needed to and they were so seriously awful for a CL team we were never gonna lose. Are we all suffering now from being jaded as well as the players ? Kxevin keeps pumping out the articles – all great reads – but it feels to me like we’re almost in the phoney war phase where we are either waiting for us to spark into life or else be brought down by our faults. It’s kinda weird, at least for me. Maybe it’s time for a Clasico to stir the passions – or maybe I’m just missing Mourinho at RM ?

    • November 6, 2015

      Jim, I didnt want to imply that we were bohring or we fans are getting used or anything. I had lost a lot of sleep in the few days before the match. But in the past too I have had similar times but never slept out when a Barca game was on. You know 99% of Barca matches happen well past midnight for us Indians.

      But you are saying is right too in many ways. There is definitely some excitement missing, am afraid.

  7. luisthebeast
    November 5, 2015

    Sex with underage girl,driving without license and now charged for blackmail.And we all know that in the end mr Karim will be clean like his white team.But Luis Suarez who have family from very young age and he never had anything to do with orgies,sex parties,tax cases and all that.cant find love from Barca fans.Ok.We live in a paranoid world.

    • Jim
      November 5, 2015

      Luis, for heavens’ sake ! Who here doesn’t like Suarez ? You’re maybe needing to close your Twitter account 🙂 although I declare an interest there as I hate it with a passion.

      If there’s a Barca fan anywhere who doesn’t realise he more than any other player ( maybe even including Neymar because of Suarez’ position on the pitch ) has transformed our attack to one where we can get at parked buses I’ll be surprised. I well remember the days with nobody in the box and nobody to push the CBs around and the midfield got the rap for it. Villa could’ve done it but not as well as Suarez. I can live with folks criticising his first touch because every time they do that he shows in the next game how good it can be when it has to be.

      Benzene has also denied the claims so we need to wait there but I agree that even if innocent here his lifestyle seems at best a little seedy. Complete contrast to Suarez as you say who seems by the accounts of all who come across him off the pitch to be a lovely person.

    • Jim
      November 5, 2015

      Benzene ?!!! Can that really be a more popular term than Benzema ?

      My predictive text needs a good kicking to keep its mind on the job, methinks.

    • raj
      November 5, 2015

      Yes, these rants from LUISTHEBEAST are becoming tiring by the day.

      Also Jim, Benzema is the more famous term if you can trust google search predict. So, yes, throw that predictive text of yours out the window right away.

      And about the boring matches, all we need is our STAR back.. everything will be up and running come the Clasico, I reckon.

  8. georgjorge
    November 5, 2015

    Wait a moment…Rakitic is out now as well? Not good.

    If the remaining players stay healthy, our lineup for the Clásico won’t be very hard to guess beforehand for lack of options. Iniesta, Busquets and Roberto are the only ones good enough to play such a game in midfield, the defense is almost set as well (only guess: Mathieu or Vermaelen), same for attack. Severely limits Enrique’s options to adapt to M*drid but it’s still a very strong lineup.

    But Villareal first – can’t wait for Sunday!

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