Armchair critics, just like most things in life, are divided into good and bad

2014-03-21 00:00

ARMCHAIR critics. Like everything in life, there are good and bad and they can be just that — a sour, bitter critic or a useful source of discussion, throwing interesting ideas and points of comment in the mix.

In a sport-mad country, there are thousands, maybe even millions, of armchair selectors, umpires, captains, referees, television match officials and commentators. If a survey had to be done on how many couch critics grab a beer, a snack and settle down on a Saturday afternoon to catch whatever action the TV brings forth, the results would be frightening and could up the divorce rate when the stark truth is exposed.

The Saturday afternoon ritual must be part of just about every male South African’s make up. It’s something that’s inbred, a natural instinct that just happens, takes its course and becomes one of life’s habits. Most wives, partners and girlfriends learn to put up with it and use the time to do their own thing or, in the bigger picture, are happy to have their sport-mad okes at home rather than in a raucous pub or on the golf course.

But back to the critic. Looking on the positive side, they can be more than useful. If they could be classified as an animal species, they would be known for being extremely territorial and loyal to their clan. The true sport crit is one who has a passion, a raging fire in his heart for a particular sport, with a favourite team thrown in. He never misses a game, gets worked up on selection and has a detailed gameplan before the team even takes to the field, highlighting how the game should be played and which played should be performing certain objectives for the team.

This approach can be useful as such an ardent supporter will be in on the know-how and why of team selection, position change — everything but the actual coach at the game. He knows all the players and their history and while the game is on, he will point out and highlight strong and weak points, asking questions (to which he can already supply the answer). His conversation proves worthwhile and food for thought is always nourished.

Then there is the critic who takes the moment to prove his drinking ability, becoming louder as a game moves on and his comments defying logic. This is the yob that tries to impress his friends and more often than not, eventually notices he is all alone and everyone else has left the building. These critics have no use and more often than not, are only watching the game because everyone else is.

Useful critics read the newspaper — a positive fact for starters — giving comfort to the sports writers that even if not too many others agree with what’s being said, someone is at least reading the article. Positive feedback throws a new light on future matches and pertinent points will remain as reminders in the memory.

It can be quite an experience looking at a match with such thoughts in the back of your mind. It opens a new dimension and approach to the game and changes your thoughts on what you originally believed.

At the end of the day, such collaboration delivers a better product in the news pages. But, there again, life can be serious, traumatic and emotional at times and slight relief is always provided by those folk who jump up and down, beer in hand, pretzel in the other, sledging a picture on a screen in the hope that all those miles away, someone will hear them and change the course of the match’s outcome.

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