Who did you cheer for at the recently finished World Football Cup? Naturally, I’m not asking those from one of the 24 countries whose national teams qualified for the championship, because we all know who they cheered for. Actually, we knew that until the moment their national team dropped out of the tournament, and from that moment on, the question also applies to them. So, who did you cheer for at World Cup Russia 2018 if your national team wasn’t competing in it, or after it had dropped out of the tournament? Did you even watch the matches if your national team wasn’t playing (any longer)?
For a long time now, football has been so much more than “just a game”. In today’s globalized world, football transcended the boundaries of sports long ago. Today, it’s the ultimate reality show. This means that it’s a big and serious business.
This was also what motivated American TV channel Fox Sports to pay 400 million dollars for broadcasting rights for the US market for two world football championships – Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022. Naturally, the calculation was based on the anticipated revenue from the sale of airtime for advertising during the championship, whose price is directly linked to traditionally record-breaking viewings. One of the main assumptions for this is that the national team actually qualifies for the championship, but Fox Sports management wasn’t too concerned since the US team had regularly qualified for world championships since 1986. However, there was a minor issue in the fact that the US national team failed to qualify precisely for this championship in Russia after losing in the decisive game to Trinidad and Tobago. There was no turning back for Fox Sports – the broadcasting rights contract has already been signed.
We all know – a completely different atmosphere permeates the country when our national team is competing in the world cup, compared to the atmosphere when it’s not. If it is, cars “fitted out” with national symbols are a regular occurrence in traffic, and fashion outfits are considerably different those few weeks, while catering facilities, be they upscale restaurants or obscure coffee-shops on the outskirts of town, all turn into auditoriums for watching “our team” play. Ok, this is all the case even in countries where “our team” hasn’t qualified, but to a lesser extent, and this is something that can’t be compared.
They also knew it at Fox Sports. That’s why they asked themselves how viewers would identify “our team” in the absence of the real “our team”. Fortunately, there are always marketing and technology. In cooperation with Wieden+Kennedy agency and 23andMe, a biotechnology company dealing with genetics, they came up with the solution. The company claims that the DNA structure of each of us contains genetic roots originating from at least five different regions around the world. A TV commercial was made in which the off-speaker, accompanied by some epic solemn music, says: “You may not speak the language, and you may have never even been to the country, but our DNA links us to one of the countries competing in the world cup!” All you have to do is send in your DNA test and you’ll get a scientific answer regarding which of the teams competing in the championship is genetically closest to you.
The message is clear – “our” national team, whichever it may be, is competing in the championship. All you have to do is discover which national team it is, and then cheer for it passionately, all the while watching our TV channel, of course.
I don’t know whether the guys at Fox Sports were satisfied with the results of this campaign. Frankly, I don’t care. You see, it’s not about how they fared in this championship. I’m really not worried about them. It’s not about how “our team” fared. It’s about how we, the people who watched this global media event for a month, fared. Has this episode shown us a new way in which we will watch these kinds of events in the future?
We’ve already learned that we’re unable to dress ourselves without fashion seasons telling us what to do. We also know that it’s not enough to just eat some ordinary food; we must also supplement it using various vitamins, minerals, and other pills to ensure that we become/remain healthy and fit. We’re lucky that we get to change and improve our imperfect bodies and faces using silicone and other plastics.
Now we finally know that it’s possible to scientifically determine whom we should cheer for. Today, we discovered which team is actually “our team”; tomorrow, we’ll discover which club we should cheer for in the same way. Why don’t we use this method to find out which political party we should vote for… or maybe we’re already voting, we just don’t know it, and no one’s bothering to tell us. Whatever, as long as we do as little thinking as possible and continue buying and spending what we’re being offered without asking questions.