What if… you just gave away two free tickets?
We are in the real world. There is an action. It’s supposed to be an attempt. Hasn’t it been there in this form? So you can let your imagination run wild. Let’s see if you recognize anything? Possibly yourself? Possibly how it really looks in the oh so real world of football?
In the story there is a phone call. You call people randomly. After all, it’s about football and there’s something to give away? The fifth attempt is successful: the man pretends to be “distantly connected to football”. He would always watch the sports show and every now and then even go to the stadium, locally, to his nearest home club in Böblingen, and now and then to the big one and adored since childhood…
“So you’re interested in football?” “Yes, yes, of course.” “Then I have two free tickets for you, travel expenses, hotel for one night – everything is included.” “Wow, yes, great, otherwise I have I’ve never won anything.” “What’s your favorite club?” “Well, VfB Stuttgart, of course! Ever since I was little!” “Super, yes, great club, I have free tickets for the Werder Bremen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt game.” “Uh, yes, aha, oh, ok.” “Well, aren’t you happy?” ” Yes, sure, yes, sure, of course. Um…”
Well. The cards would have been sold. However, there are only two small conditions. “I knew that,” says the man, “there’s always a catch.” “No, quite harmless, really. You have to tell me beforehand what you’re hoping for from the game and later give me a little report on how it went. That’s justifiable, isn’t it?” “Yes, you’re right.”
Alright, so further in the text: “What would you hope for from the game? Who are you for?” “Oh, well, Frankfurt, Werder, well, I don’t really care. I mean, it’s still the beginning of the season, maybe one of them will be a competitor for VfB? Nah, I don’t know, nobody at all.” “Ok, well then you can let your wishes run free now. What are you hoping for from the game?” “Yeah, well, hmm, I haven’t really thought about it. Can I get back to you?” “Ok, think about it. I get that that’s a tough question.”
Who has ever been asked what they would like to see as a viewer? From time to time the announcers may say before the game “then let’s hope for an exciting top game with a few goals tonight”, whereby fairly soon there would be a double restriction to a) “the coaches will of course see it differently, because, like Huub Stevens it already said that zero must be the top priority” and b) after just five minutes the realization is gained that “a top game seldom keeps what it promises”. The curious thing here is that the speakers seem to be surprised and disappointed every time, so the “expected great game” hardly ever comes about, but they don’t seem to learn from experience and could perhaps integrate the knowledge that football is as it is, as they demanded, namely the famous keeping of the zero, avoiding mistakes, “not letting the opponent come into play”, “allowing as little as possible and, if possible, here and there on the offensive…” if the opportunity arises, only the opponent has reversed exactly the same request and the teams “neutralize” themselves in this way, to put it in the most advantageous way. And top teams only differ from the others in that they logically neutralize themselves at a higher level, i.e. the better attackers are faced with better defenders, which would by no means be expected to be superior to an average game in terms of attractiveness.
The game should actually be called “football prevention”, and this prevention is on the verge of perfection. Because notice: one of the unwritten ones, installed by the media and thus gradually validating it through prayer wheel-like repetition, is: “Goals are made through mistakes.” Which directly allows the further conclusion “if we continue to train diligently, then one day it will be time : we don’t make any more mistakes.” Neither does the opponent. Final score: 0:0. Then only the funeral service.
The man gets his cards sent, you wait for the feedback, which he has committed to – and it actually comes. When he called back, he opened the conversation: “Well, thank you very much for the tickets. We’re leaving tomorrow. I’ve been thinking about what I’m hoping for. Actually wasn’t that difficult. Just because you’re never asked and besides, we’re not in Utopia” – you can tell the man has gotten close to the heart of the matter – “but you can still wish for something like that, even though you’re not used to it and might have a few fears that it wouldn’t…’ He interrupts briefly: ‘Speak up, what do you wish for?’
The man prepared himself brilliantly and included everything: “Of course, I would like a fair game, no trifles, preferably no fouls at all, no ugly scenes, no elbow checks or anything like that, no time games and no acting.” Ok, that was really an understandable concern. One nods or acknowledges, with a continuous “Hm, yes, I see, go on.” In any number of sequences. Yes, he can hardly be stopped. Somehow felt in Utopia, for a moment?
“Then I wish that the fans would be peaceful with each other. Singing, cheering, everything is part of it, creates the mood, creates atmosphere. But please no Bengalos, no fan riots, no torn down fences, no exaggerated whistling concerts, no fights, no wild fan chants that come off as so inhuman, no insults, no bananas that are thrown because of any jungle comparisons or things like that. No insults, no shouts of ‘trainer out’, no savage insults at the club’s management, including on posters, no disparagement of the opponent, no hate tirades and so on. A peaceful celebration where there may well be a few vying supporters of this or that team who rejoice in particular at goals from their own team – but don’t freak out when the opponent scores a goal.”
Wow, that was a lot. You could also sum it up like this: it should remain peaceful and there should be a pleasant atmosphere. But okay, carry on.
“Then, of course, the flow of the game, few interruptions, no wrong decisions, duels shouldn’t be missing, no, I don’t mean that, only within the framework of the rules, braced arms and such, classy duels, also in the air, are part of it, but no reckless tackling, no bleeding lacerations on the head, because both want to go to the ball so badly that they even ignore their own health.”
You can easily follow him. “Is the wish pallet filled now, is that all?” I would like a few successful combinations, a few tongue-clicks, a dribble where the opponent doesn’t foul after he’s been played, a back-heel trick, maybe an overhead kick, a brilliant save, a crossbar shot and stuff like that where you want to jump up and then but can only shout ah and oh, but is already looking forward to the next good action, which will hopefully be about thirteen centimeters more accurate?” “Ok, are you done now? Was that the wish? Were not even that few. I see you got the game.”
“No, I haven’t said what I wish for most.” “Yeah, what else? That would be?” “An exciting game with a couple of goals, evenly distributed if possible, but if not, that wouldn’t be so bad.” “You mean two or three goals, a 1:1 or something?” “No , I meant a lot of goals, always exciting, sometimes one in front, later the other, a 5: 3 can come out at the end, that would be fun for me.”
Although you didn’t even dare to go that far in your thoughts: he prepared and summarized it really well. And why not 5:3? In this case, would you refuse to turn on the sports show in the evening for that reason alone? Or maybe even prefer to do it? A few more great goals tonight?
The weekend arrives, the games take place, Monday dawns. You wait for the follow-up report, which you can certainly look forward to after this preparation and which you can rely on?
The man even comes by in person. “Now let’s go, how was the game?” “Yes, in the end it was 1:1.” “Aha, and how did you like it otherwise?” “Well, well, there were a lot of goals ever not. Otherwise the weather was modest… modest…”, here one uses the chance to interrupt “so typical Fritz Walter weather? That doesn’t matter, doesn’t it?” For a moment, when the name “Fritz Walter” is mentioned, you can see how a brief glow comes into his eyes. That must have something to do with the melancholy of how the game used to be and that it actually there was something like fair play and things like that, but then he goes on quite undeterred. “Then the fans were by no means peaceful, there were beer mugs flying, the abusive chants coming, of course, Frankfurt was behind and they should have gotten a penalty once, but it still wasn’t nice like that.”
“You were there with your wife?” “No, no, I took my son with me.” “Oh, good, and what did he think of it?” , and otherwise he rather plays basketball.” “Nothing more about the game?” “Well, hmm, no, oh, now I remember. He was totally enthusiastic.” “What, he liked it? Surely you too overall?” “No, he spotted a girl and when she got something to drink, it happened to him at exactly that moment that he was thirsty too. Then he didn’t come back for a while.”
Back to the game: “There were a lot of interruptions and fouls, constant discussions, and Schrir wasn’t quite in control of the situation either. Maybe he should have shown yellow earlier? In any case, that passed on to the spectators, who also whistled the whole time. Werder then played for time, but Eintracht still managed to equalize.”
“Well, that would still work then?” “No, oh what, once and never again. Most of the time you can only get angry or simply switch off emotionally. The flag went up three times and I’ll tell you: the grandstand tickets were great and you could see it well. It was very close three times, at least once not guaranteed to be offside, and all three times an almost certain goal because they really would have gone through freely. The flag went up – even in the sports show they later showed that he missed twice. So you felt like this: nothing happens for a long time – and when things get exciting, the whistle blows. Whether it’s right or not doesn’t really matter. The main thing was that something would happen.”
More or less a normal Bundesliga game? But represented almost nothing of what you would have wished for? Whereby this “one” perhaps reveals exactly the crux of the matter. Who is this “man” supposed to be? A fictitious “neutral viewer” of some sort? What is that supposed to be? We’ve never had it – we don’t need it here!
Now the whole event takes place in Utopia. Funnily enough, the action is planned, but in the morning when it’s supposed to start, the lines are already running hot – in the other direction. Because something leaked, a leak, a mole? No, there is no such thing in Utopia!
Anyway, the first caller who comes along: “I heard that you give away free tickets? Is there something to that?” “Um, yes, right, what makes you think of that?” “Oh, not that important. Can you get some?” “Yes, I still have some for the third division game, Osnabrück – Werder Bremen II, what do you say to that?” “Bring them on. I’ll cover travel expenses, I don’t need accommodation, I live only 340 kilometers away from Osnabrück, it’s no problem.” “Okay, that’s fine, but you’re in luck. You know the conditions?” “What kind of conditions? Aren’t they free?” “Yes, yes. All you have to do is say beforehand what you want from such a game and then report back to what extent it came true or not. Agreed?”
Sure, the man agrees, is happy about the gift, goes with his buddy because he’s still young and childless, but quickly says in advance how he imagines such a game. There is hardly any difference to the first example. The only thing he always says is: “Well, just like in every game. The ball is rolling, the fans are peaceful, there’s nice action and some great goals. What do you think?” There’s no mention of foul play and ugly scenes. You ask briefly because he doesn’t mention it. He just says: “What ugly scenes do you mean?” , but wasn’t hurt a bit, as the next scene shows and so on. All of the things that supposedly make up football?” Funnily enough, the answer is, “Huh?”
The follow-up report is similarly undramatic. “How was the game? Have your wishes and hopes come true?” “What kind of question? A crazy game I tell you. 3:2 in the end, but both could have scored a lot more goals. The mood was good, the players shook hands fairly after the game, no freaks out, no whistles. Fans remained absolutely peaceful, however, admittedly: the home team also won. Although: I’m also a bit sad, because have you heard about the game in Duisburg? And the one in labor? Something must have happened there! Both games with eight goals! But whatever, I’m going back next week. It’s okay.”