The Conformity Of Sports Punditry: Gary Neville’s Sigh Sports And Sean Dyche’s Market Leaders
THE football world, notwithstanding the scrutiny of the millions of people who obsessively follow its comings and goings, remains a stubbornly closed community. One consequence of this, as I have noted before, is that it is an extremely conformist environment in which new fashions spread almost instantaneously, and adherence is almost total.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the language of the game. Words and phrases spread like wildfire and are used automatically by everyone within days Sometimes they spread outwards and infect society at large.
This month’s phenomenon is not a word but a sound – a sigh, to be precise.
I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure this trend was started by Sky’s innovative young pundit Gary Neville. Neville at least utilises it appropriately, as if pained and saddened by what he is about to day.
Others, however, have bought into the sigh project enthusiastically, and in many cases over-enthusiastically, to the point where it now rivals ‘to be fair’ in its ubiquity.
During a recent talkSPORT show hosted by Matt Holland and Danny Higginbotham the indiscriminate sighing reached the stage where virtually every remark was prefixed with a tortured exhalation.
One of the few people yet to catch the sighing bug is Burnley boss Sean Dyche, but that is because he is busy promoting his own new phrase.
In these days of clubs being referred to as ‘brands’, we are used to the language of the market. But usually such words come from the mouths of league administrators and club chief executives. Yet Dyche was speaking, not at a shareholders’ meeting, but in a post-match interview. After the usual props to ‘the group’ he referred to their position re the big boys of the Barclays Premier League. These he described, not as ‘big clubs’ or ‘top sides’, but as ‘market leaders’.
That’s right: MARKET LEADERS.
Only time will tell whether this abomination will catch on, but don’t bet against it.
It’s enough to make you sigh.
The Angry Red Tomato