A few tweets from SBS football analyst Craig Foster yesterday got me thinking.
“Media must accept challenge to remain current, update, evolve with game, otherwise coverage will lag behind game level/limit progress”
“Coverage of matches/coaches has to improve in order for culture to grow in literacy. We are what we read”
“Be great to see more use of formations, graphics, stats, explanations, analysis, questioning”
Foster is making relevant points that not only apply to the sporting media but also other areas of the media and society.
Jurgen Habermas, a German socioligist and philosopher created the idea of a ‘public sphere’. This is an idealised society where debate around issues of public importance is devoid of bias and influenced opinion.
It stresses the importance of equal opportunity to be heard and proper, useful and intelligent discussion to ultimately better the community. When media runs this way, so does public discussion and accountability of government and therefore the society improves, as governors are held accountable.
I believe this is a good way of putting into context what Foster is trying to say. In his blog about the rise of local coaches in the A-League he explains, “Jose Mourinho says that the (Italian) media’s thorough knowledge of the game allows it to hold (Serie A) coaches accountable.”
His message is that in order for the game in Australia to grow both tactically, professionally and administratively the media must be given more space to analyse constructively the way in which coaches and clubs manage their teams.
Admittedly this does already occur to an extent. Each major newspaper in Australia has at least one journalist that does this. However do they get enough space and is their analysis good enough?
I do not believe so. Even online blogs are better than some of what we get in the daily papers. Take the Zonal Marking football tactics website as an example.
It is absolutely brilliant and goes forensically in depth into games from all over Europe and pulls to part how and why teams played.
Even more specialised than this is a blog similar, begun by a Swansea fan, analysing just Swans games.
Another football journalist Michael Zappone tweeted in response to Foster, “Further to your point Craig, there are several DAILY sports papers in Italy. Analysis and depth of discussion is amazing.”
While these countries Foster and Zappone speak of have very long established football media traditions it may be hard for Australia to reach the same level of quality and exposure given the standing of the sport here.
However for it to improve the wheels must start to move slowly.
A great move would be to create for the A-League the same program used by Zonal Marking – FourFourTwo Magazine’s ‘StatZone’.
It is an app with detailed diagrams and stats on all Premier League, Champions League and African Nations Cup matches. Something like this would be fantastic for the A-League as the statistical fodder available now is paltry.
If the game is to improve we must go beyond merely reading about transfer rumours and battles in the dressing room.
The Australian Football media needs to move to a more intelligently critical standpoint, like the one espoused by Foster on SBS.