This site has been an attempt in part to discover if there is a market, or an audience, for sports blogging/writing at the same level as exists for literature, science and history. I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t (MTMG has about 100 regular readers, who visit on average once per week, although the site itself has been very fortunate in the publicity it’s received from various quarters).
Two kinds of football blog thrive: good team-linked blogs with plenty of interactivity, forums etc; and columist-gossip blogs like Football365 (who won’t thank me for the description). There might be an audience for an intellectual “Manchester United” blog, or an “Arsenal” one (there’s already a West Ham one more or less), but probably not much of an audience compared to the existing invitations to knuckle-drag.
Writing about something is the best way to learn about it, but it’s also a good way of discovering if you really like it or not. I’ve come to look at sport psychology in much the same way as I look at Graham Kendrick. (N.B. I’m not a sport psychologist: I have, on the other hand, helped sports people with their psychological hurdles. Not the same thing. I hope my “About” page clarifies this).
We’ve left our national game to the least intelligent, least thoughtful, least strategy-orientated, most superstitious, most hidebound, most class-obsessed, least outward-looking people in our society. At the same time, we claim that success is important to us whilst actually using the game as a holiday subject: a place to rest from thinking.
When we do succeed in implementing change, and achieve success (the Rugby World Cup, the Ashes, England until Rooney’s injury in summer 2004) we are prone to discarding the change. Instead we attribute success to a set of national traits and traditional values that we don’t actually possess more than anyone else and that are irrelevant to sport in any case.
Exaggerated machismo is a feature of many successful male sporting sides – Australia’s cricketers, for instance. But it seems to be an exclusively English trait to disassociate intelligence from that, to regard it with suspicion. Anyone using intelligence in the slightest way is likely to be partitioned off by the term “guru” and regarded thereafter as an amusing crank who can be safely ignored.
I dare say you can tell where this is going, or might be going.