One of the tenets of green political philosophy is that there is a limited amount of resources and we should not use resources faster than we can replenish them. The two most obvious and startling examples of this are peak oil (= there’s only certain amount or oil on the planet and it takes rather a long time to replenish so we shouldn’t just burn it up willy-nilly) and climate change (= we can only fill our limited amount of atmosphere with an equally limited amount of carbon before things turn bad).
But really, the concept can apply to most anything. Conservative politicians are wont to apply it to money. Their ‘peak money’ theory basically states that there is a limited amount of money and so we should hold off spending it, except in really important cases, such as Iroquois helicopter rides to the V8 races in Hamilton.
But one area of resource depletion that has got me worried recently is ‘peak football’. The three evolving stories of:
- Barca’s confirmation as one of the greatest football teams of all time,
- the unraveling corruption scandal at FIFA
- and the possible departure of the Phoenix from Wellington to escape the tax debts of a property magnate,
all signal, to me, that we may be nearing ‘peak football’.
Football relies on resources for its survival; players, games, fans and funds. As FIFA tries to grow its product, football, beyond its natural limits it generates more games, more funds, more televised revenue, more advertising and sponsorship and a more global base of fans. As we know, there is eventually, a limit to all those things. Footballers can only physically play a certain amount of games per year, there is a numerical lit on the number of fans that can follow a sport, and a limit to the amount of advertising that can be shown (even if it doesn’t feel like it).
To grow constantly FIFA needs more and more televised superstar quality games. So it lets super clubs like Barcelona and Manchester United evolve and then slowly vacuum up the greatest players on the planet. When football bastions like England, Spain, the Netherlands and Russia can’t provide an exponential growth in profit from earlier World Cups FIFA chooses instead to stage it instead in oil-rich but wholly unsuitable Qatar.
It all has the same desperate, money-crazed look that trying to extract oil from tar sand does. The danger, for football fans is that real grassroots football becomes unsustainable as it tries constantly to support the teetering behemoth of FIFA’s money-sucking global football star teams, players and officials. And what we are left with is more closely equivalent to professional wrestling; scripted entertainment for the masses rather than community sport of and from the masses.
** As a footnote – Looking around at some of the ridiculous impositions that New Zealand is gladly signing up to support with either the Rugby World Cup, or Super Rugby, it may well be that we have a second peak football issue here in New Zealand too.