‘Dull and boring’ comments don’t stand up
The wash-up from the weekend’s controversial off-field incidents at the Melbourne Derby has been long and painful for those in football, but thankfully, the right steps have been taken to prevent these kinds of incidents from recurring in the future. However, it is the incorrect drawing of conclusions by some in the mainstream media that continually frustrate and flabbergast football fans. Earlier this week, 3AW Melbourne radio drive host Tom Elliott claimed that the reason football fans misbehave is that the game itself is inherently dull and boring. And it is that point that I would like to refute – through the world of records and statistics.
All too often football fans hear the same ’90 minutes for a nil-all draw’ slap from non-fans. “How can you sit there for 90 minutes and nothing happens”, they say. So, let’s start with a breakdown of nil-all draws in the A-League.
|Season||Games||Nil-all games||Nil-all games (%)|
That’s right – only 60 of them in over 900 games (roughly one scoreless draw every 15 games), and that level is at an all-time low this season. That is what you would call a very small minority.
Now, Elliott offered the Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC game at Etihad Stadium in season 2 as a game he attended, where an A-League regular-season record 50,333 fans witnessed a rare 0-0 draw (one of only 8 that season). He said the game was a ‘boring’ spectacle.
I believe, given I was also at that game, that it was one of the most exciting A-League fixtures I’ve ever attended. Given his status as a theatregoer or “newbie” to the A-League, I can make a poignant comparison. I took two A-League “newbies” (one of whom is also a longtime AFL fan) with me that night, and both thoroughly enjoyed the match and the atmosphere around it, describing the entire experience as tense, exciting and a collection of other positive adjectives. So, if Elliott struggled to find something (anything!) enjoyable in that contest, then he is either impossibly difficult to please, or went into the game with the pre-conceived notion that he wasn’t going to enjoy it.
Now, one of the other common points from the non-fan is that there are too many draws, with neither side actually winning the game. Let’s have a look at that breakdown:
So, only a quarter of A-League games have finished in draws, and this season, it’s at an all-time low of under 1 in every 5 games. That means, at least 4 of the 5 games each weekend this season are not finishing in a stalemate. Now, let’s have a look at another breakdown – this time regarding home wins:
|Season||Games||Home wins||Home wins (%)|
Almost half of all A-League games end in a win to the home team, a scenario that usually creates a better atmosphere at the venue during the game – one of the major differentiation points between football and other sports that makes football an exciting and enjoyable spectator event. Again, this season, home wins are at an all time high for the A-League.
The next point from the non-fan is that there aren’t enough goals scored. So, let’s have a look at that breakdown:
(33 mins p/goal)
Now, 2.68 goals per game is admittedly less than the Premier League, which sees 2.81 goals per game, and the German Bundesliga, which sees 2.86. But it’s absolutely on par with leagues like the Scottish Premier League and the Portugese Primeira Liga – both well renowned and supported leagues in their own right.
The statistics above, of course, only take into account that all you are basing ‘excitement’ on in a football game is goals. And that games finishing in draws are somehow boring, whilst all games that feature goals are not. If that premise is what Elliott is basing his comments on, then he is severely misinformed. I’ve been to plenty of games where goals are scored and the game was much less interesting than other games that finished in a draw.
Now, everyone is entitled to their opinion – if Elliott honestly believes football to be a boring game, then that’s his prerogative and I won’t lose any sleep over it. I would, however, encourage him in the future to attend a few more A-League fixtures before forming, let alone broadcasting, an opinion on football in this country.
However, claiming that fans misbehave because the game is inherently ‘boring’ is simply spreading misinformation. Chairs weren’t wrecked and flares lit because the game is ‘boring’. As clearly wrong as those actions are, they were undertaken because of the passion these fans feel for their team and their sport, something fans and journalists of other codes have notoriously found difficult to comprehend. Even though this kind of passion is seen around the world at nearly every professional football club.
I should reiterate that I am in no way defending the vandalism and behaviour of the very small minority of fans who broke seats or ripped flares – in fact I whole heartedly back both Melbourne clubs and the FFA in their efforts to weed out these ‘fans’ and hand out the prescribed bans for anti-social behaviour. But to say these fans did what they did because they were bored, as Elliott suggested to his listeners, couldn’t be more off the mark.
Note: Statistics in this article were correct as at the end of week 19 of the 2012-13 A-League season, and exclude pre-season results.