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Video Killed the Football Star


It used to be that when a team signed a new player, the anticipation of seeing them play had to wait until they actually took the pitch, unless you’d managed to see them play for another club previously. Even then, there was the knowledge that playing with a different group of players, they would likely play somewhat differently. But the popularity and accessibility of YouTube has changed all of that. A single highlight reel can convince fans that a player is world class or maybe just trash. One spin or shot or goal, played over and over again in a 2-4 minute video out of context and with some good music can convince more than a great 90 minute performance of a player’s quality. Just like the advent of the music video changed radio forever, YouTube is changing how fans view players. It’s as if video killed the football star.


Watching this clip would make you think that Djamel Mesbah was a starter at Milan


Immortalizing a human being has always been a treacherous practice. People are human. They have moments of brilliance, and they make mistakes. Now we have YouTube to capture either or both and offer them up to viewers worldwide via a few clicks at any time.


This video clip has villainized Zaccardo forever


Sure, one could argue that a highlight video can show you the best a player has to offer, and that many players live up to their videos or even surpass them, creating new highlight videos.


This video reminds us of the spectrum of what Pato was capable of, even if he sometimes exceeded these expectations


And then there are videos of a player not even on the pitch that are more like a gag reel, stigmatizing them forever for non-football reasons.


Is Balotelli more famous for his antics or his football skills?


Or perhaps there is a young player, maybe from a lesser league, who has maybe played more than one position, yet a YouTube video makes him dazzle and wow, without the context of the level of play. Often these videos will take a single moment of brilliance and work it into a highlight video multiple times, convincing the unwary viewer that the brilliance happened more than once.


Bartosz Salamon looks explosive in this video, but will he look the same in Serie A?


If one is aware of the dangers of being duped by YouTube fame and infamy, it can be fun to watch certain plays over and over, or to preview what a new player has done in the past and see how they move and interact. But caution is required. The instant gratification that YouTube offers is hardly reality. To pass judgment on a player based on a simple highlight reel or single moment of brilliance or infamy takes away from the pleasure or pain of seeing what they can actually do in 90 minutes or even for a season. I am old fashioned enough to believe that watching a player throughout a match, and even through multiple matches is the way to measure their worth. And while YouTube can be a great resource, it can be a great hindrance to our enjoyment of the game, too. The moral of this story is don't believe everything you see on YouTube. Don’t let video kill the football star for you. Enjoy the beautiful game.


This post inspired by The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”


Our next match is
Cagliari vs. Milan
Sunday, February 10 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)