I reckon most people, irritated by the behaviour of others – on a train, in a restaurant, cinema or on the touchline – imagine the satisfaction of being able to zap those causing the annoyance. With one point of the fingers, a powerful ray silences or disappears those causing offence.
The FA’s new Respect campaign video indulges that fantasy with loudmouth parents and players getting closed in on by a heavily armed robot. Watch it here: Respect the Technology.
I really like the video. It’s surprising, funny and not preachy. Two aspects of the video struck me as important.
1) The video ends with the statement ‘Play Your Part’. It’s aimed at us – we are the targets: parents, coaches and players. We offend each other; we undermine the authority of the referee. Bad touchline behaviour isn’t the work of criminals and sociopaths. It’s mums and dads who do the school run and raise funds for the PTA. It’s kids studying for GCSEs and who babysit or help their younger sisters when they don’t know what to wear to a party.
2) The miscreants don’t get zapped. They get distracted – by music; understood – with a teddy bear; or just bottled up for a bit. We don’t want them zapped. We need the kids to play and we need the parents to bring them to games and be there when they score, whether its a goal of great individual flair or a shocker past their own keeper.
There are some grassroots football ideologues who have had enough of parents bawling from the side and want us all to be silenced, if not banished. I know the promoters of child-centred junior football are dead right that the kid comes first. But l want the pleasure I get from watching my kids recognised too. It’s not always euphoric, it can be tragic if they get upset or hurt, but I need to be there to share the experience with them.
This Respect campaign gets my respect because it’s not expecting po-faced parents. You can.. you should.. you must have fun. It’s just not the same fun you have in the stands at a league game or watching your team on tv. It’s a different game. In my view, a much, much better one.
I was asked to write about the FA’s new Respect campaign. I have received no payment for this piece and all the opinions are my own.