Following on from last week’s article on what football could learn from other sports in terms of improving the quality of the ‘product’, this week SDS looks at other ways in which football could become more appealing to those bemoan the lack of value for money in the modern game.
Across the Atlantic in North America, ‘All-Star’ games play an important role during the regular season of sports such as Basketball and Ice Hockey. This weekend, the NHL hosted their annual All-Star weekend in Columbus Ohio, which included not just a match featuring the league’s best players, but a skills competition between those players in front of raucous crowd at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The NBA will host their event at Madison Square Garden next month.
As well as the match, All-Star weekends include a variety of other events and allow fans to engage and hold influence over the event. At the NHL event over the weekend, the fans were given the opportunity to vote for who they wanted to see included in the match.
In an age where supporters complain that footballers are disengaged from fans and that the sterile dominance of competition and ‘win at all costs’ has sucked the fun out of the game, hosting an All-Star event, either during the season, or within the pre-season months could serve to present top division professional football in a more positive and supporter-engaging light.
Would this structure work in professional football in Scotland or across Europe? It would certainly help to add some much needed value to the fan experience. It has been muted before as a replacement to each league’s pre-season ‘super cup’ match. These matches are often dismissed due to their lack of competitiveness and genuine worth, so would hardly be missed if a replacement was found. Adding an All Star weekend, culminating in a match between squads selected by supporters may prove more successful and more enjoyable than a one off match to serve as the season ‘curtain raiser’.