While Twitch is a big thing nowadays and has been for some time and i have more history as being someone who’s watching others play instead of playing myself (at least in my youth when people still hung out to play games together), i haven’t found much joy in watching others play games. There really is only one exception: Rocket League.
So yesterday here i was, watching Rocket League’s watchamacallit championships instead of the olympics- and it made me think. Back when i was a kid, athletes were more or less “normal people” excelling at some type of sports. Their training routines were “normal”, as was their behaviour. This might, of course, be a simple case of rose-tinted glasses, but one thing that’s bothering me with professional sports nowadays is that it seems to be cranked up to eleven. Everything needs to be perfect. Remember those muddy soccer/football games? Today, there are roofs over the stadium, maybe even electrical, to provide the players with dry grass, cut to the perfect length. They even go out on the field before the match and “test” the grass. In the european championship, the teams even went out the night before and decided whether to give water to the grass again or not (it was a thing in one of germany’s matches- the more technical germans wanting to water the grass to be better suited to quick play, the other team declining).
And then money comes into play, as well. European Championship, World Cup, Champions League and soon the european nation’s league in football are all hyped up events where the executives ideally want us to go out to public viewing areas and shower their sponsors with money. Instead of giving local businesses the opportunity to profit from such events, they send them out of the area so they can’t “steal” money from official sponsors. When i read the news about how non-sponsors are prohibited to use certain hashtags on Twitter, i rolled my eyes. While it must have been true for some time now, i feel they’re sucking the fun out of these events for everyone- the athletes just as well as the viewers.
It was interesting to watch the Rocket League stuff. Sure, the players are sponsored or part of professional eSports teams and i’m sure there’s a lot of “professionalism” going on behind the scenes, but it still felt much more down-to-earth than pro-sports do. I still enjoy professional sports, but it was that lighter tone that stood out to me yesterday; it didn’t feel like they were blowing the thing up to more than it was and watching these matches was actually fun- although matches i watched were very one-sided affairs.