Hype and the birth of the monster that is modern football

By Darshan Joshi

Hype is like a phoenix. It is afforded life, it blossoms, it blooms. It peaks. It dies down; it turns to dust; yet it remains deathless. It is as immortal as it is intangible. Its hyperphysical presence experiences a ceaseless resurrection; it evades an escape from memory. Hype is a monster we create. Hype is the reality that Frankenstein’s creation wasn’t. Hype is the be all and end all of all things. Hype is the aggrandisation of the history of football, and it is thus the Brahma of modern football.

Hype, though, is not a spontaneously combusting element. It is we let it be. We impregnate hype. Money is a culprit. Technology, media, culture, history, globalisation; these are all culprits. They are what we let it be, what it is, and what we will cultivate it to be. It is infinite in size, and in potential. We have made football what it is today. Every cent, television image, chant, experience, story, every word – it is an amplification of this hype, an amplification of what we let happen. We are at fault.

The progression of hype is like an anti-Matryoshka doll. Each wave consumes the last, doubles, triples in size; its limitless capacity draws everything in. Football is a man-made hurricane. It is now inseminated with everything we associate with power. It is now a by-product, and only a by-product, of money and thus of entertainment, of politics, of globalisation, of greed.

The hype at the foundations of football is amaranthine. This is clear. It is unstoppable because it is only a side effect of hype. Hype instigates the perennial regeneration of our global game. It will never cease to be because it is always fed. Football is, in essence, a religion, driven by financial investment. Television revenue, the printed press, injections of wealth from distant lands are all brought to existence by hype. We milk, and will continue to milk, every last breath out of hype, but it is a phoenix. It returns, and football grows.

That it doesn’t grow in the direction of goodness is moot. As Gandalf said: things are now in motion that cannot be undone. We have subconsciously accepted football as a colossus. We let it happen. We let this motion take life.

It had led us to a split-end. One day, there was a divorce between football and reality. They have come so far apart, as we see today – financial turmoil on Wall Street, financial eudaimonia on FIFA Street.

It is unfair to single out Carlos Tévez as an epitomisation of football’s social “insanctity”, because he is simply a by-product of the by-product that is modern football. He is, though, an example that will be crucified for recalcitrant behaviour that has somehow transcended our preconceptions of the (modern) footballer. If the forces of supply and demand have determined his monetary worth, it is his internal axis of right and wrong that have determined his decisions, his transgressions. It is a shameful reality that in time, this appalling misdemeanour will go materially unpunished. It is proof of the disunion of football and reality.

FIFA will go a long way in redeeming the disappeared verisimilitude of football if it makes an example of Tévez, but this situation is one of melancholia because it won’t make a difference. History will repeat itself, but the moral is this: the chain of events is of our making. Not of one generation, but of all since the birth of football. Through hype, we let this happen. We let this happen. We’ve created a monster. And that monster, well, is a creator.

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