Leading article: A new way of seeing sport

Share
Related Topics

There is much indignation at the fact that next week's England versus Ukraine World Cup qualifying match will be shown on the internet and not on television. Critics say it is unfair that those without a computer or internet access, particularly the poor and the elderly, should be excluded from seeing the national team in action. The trouble with that argument is that it is out of date.

Some football matches, it is true, are more than sporting occasions. They are events in a communal calendar. Being able to join in such shared experiences is part of what being a nation is about. There is a strong argument for making certain events available to all citizens through terrestrial television or freeview. But which events constitute an inviolable part of that communion? The FA Cup final, Wimbledon, the Ashes, the Grand National? The Six Nations? The World Cup? Snooker from the Crucible? Where should the line be drawn?

The match against Ukraine is an event of little consequence since England have already qualified for the World Cup but, with England's customary form, it could have been a last-minute nailbiter. Even so, it was to have been broadcast on Setanta, which has fewer viewers than the number who might pay to watch the match on the internet, which is why Setanta went bust. Why is the internet being condemned as a more exclusive option? There seem small grounds to protest about the new arrangement when nobody was protesting about the old one.

There are considerable problems to solve if sport on the internet is to become a norm. Stuttering streaming presents a technical problem. And illegal foreign web channels would threaten the business models which make internet sport economically viable, in the way that illegal downloading threatens the music and movie businesses. Furthermore, watching a match huddled around a laptop, with limited visibility for all but those right in front of the screen, means that the experience will not be so sociable as with a widescreen TV or in a pub.

But these are matters of practicality. The principle of exclusivity, even for England football games, has been conceded. Technology can be expected to disrupt the old ways of watching sport as it has so many of our other ingrained behaviours.

And if sports fans don't like that they should be complaining about something wider than football on the web.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
David Cameron revealed his decision not to remain as Tory leader beyond 2020 to the BBC's James Landale last night  

Could the BBC be any more left-wing? First they employ loads of Tories, and then they're caught chillaxing in Cameron's kitchen

Mark Steel
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss