Heart of Football

A Tale of Two Illegal Streamers

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness. We live in a time where all the information about everything that has ever happened is available at a second’s notice from your pocket, but half of the world would rather discuss things that didn’t happen. Of course, as with everything in life, these are two types of people, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, the fanatic and the neutral. There are those who insist on shopping locally while there are others who allow the phrase ‘just get it on Amazon’ to roll off their tongue without a single consideration of the bigger, more detrimental impact such activity has on society as a whole. Likewise, there are two types of people who stream sports illegally. 

The first city of supporters to stream illegally is largely overcrossed with the Amazon aficionado. For this group, the idea of paying for something that can be got for free is the epitome of foolishness. They are the holders of wisdom – why would anyone put in effort or money for something that can be acquired seamlessly either via Amazon or Front Row Sports. Anyone who would wish to shop locally, or indeed purchase a subscription to the many providers of high level football is missing out – both intellectually and monetarily. But what this group fails to acknowledge is the David vs Goliath effect for which they adhere, in other words – how could one person’s actions make a difference in the grand scheme of things – is largely flawed when the number of Davids begin to outweigh the behemoth of Goliath. When the actions of the parasite creates an imbalance the host is harmed, and ultimately it is the parasite that suffers.

The tale of the second city is one which is far more nuanced. These citizens just strive to see their team play every game. The word spectacle comes from the Latin spectaculum meaning “public show,” an apt translation because a spectacle, like a public show, is something worth watching. It is a word that sport strives to be, but like Schroedinger’s cat – a game is both a spectacle and a blunder until it is seen. But for these supporters watching the game in the first place is the issue.

Due to a mix of legal blackouts and TV schedules seemingly being compiled by the supporters’ greatest enemy, the neutral, it is impossible for viewers in the UK and Ireland to watch all their teams’ games. It is the one product all fans want, but simply cannot buy. Other sports don’t have such issues, with the likes of Rugby Pass allowing supporters to watch whatever game hasn’t been chosen for live TV action. Other products exist for most other major and minor sports alike. But as it stands, a Premier League supporter in the UK and Ireland must subscribe to Sky, BT and Amazon Prime or Premier Sports (depending on which side of the Irish Sea you call home) for the joy of watching only a selection of your teams’ matches. This only leaves supporters the option of seeking out less than legal ways of watching games not deemed worthy of a live TV slot. 

So how is the problem of people watching live sports illegally solved? For the first cohort of supporters this might never be possible. These are not ones for turning. A group with a seemingly greater intellect that will always try to find a way to one-up everyone else. But for the latter group, a simple system whereby all games not chosen for live TV broadcasts are given back to the club or the league to broadcast via a separate pass system. The Saturday and Champions League blackouts have also to be revoked. A better TV rights package system that covers issues such as this but that also distributes revenue more fairly throughout the whole football pyramid can only make for a much better option for supporters. 

So for a tale of two cities; of two supporters trying to support their team, it should not mean missing the game if they aren’t lucky enough to be in the stadium, or indeed lucky enough to live in a country that has every game televised. Until the issue is resolved the good will have to side with the bad and embrace the illegal stream.  



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