Photo by Travel Nomades on Unsplash
Alejandro Vasquez Coronado
The recent trend of football locker room documentaries is an interesting immersive experience that can have a dangerous outcome.
Many football fans are getting what they’ve always wanted: a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite clubs. But what does this mean for the future of the sport? Only time will tell, but the locker room dynamic is about to change.
It all started a few years ago with the Netflix documentary First team: Juventus, which followed different players off the field showing their daily lives, struggles and thoughts that fans would not normally know about. Sunderland until I die came out two years later and started the momentum that documentaries have today. The documentary showed a Premier League team with an important history being relegated not just once, but twice to the third tier of League One, something that is rarely seen.
Amazon Prime is starting to hit its peak in sports documentaries, as it is now their main producer. In the last three years, they have released documentaries about clubs such as Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germain and Chivas; and in players like Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Sergio Ramos and Maradona. It looks like these are just the beginning.
Their Everything or nothing The series continues to expand its library ranging from different sports, but its football library now has images of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Juventus and the Brazilian national team. It was recently announced that his next entry will follow the German national team to the next World Cup. This is a bold move, yes, Germany is a favorite to win, but a documentary focused on the country that actually wins or perhaps one that has a more interesting history, like Canada going to its first world cup since 1986 would have been a more interesting choice.
With the focus on more teams possibly joining this setup, one has to wonder if sports are morphing into a different kind of “entertainment”. While it takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, cameras often change people’s behavior, so it’s a worrying possibility that the locker room could adopt a reality-show type of behavior from players trying to gain more attention.
From a marketing and business point of view, nothing prevents these clubs from exploring this opportunity. Also, many football players have sponsors outside their clubs by different brands. It wouldn’t be surprising if these brands asked to make a deal with the club or even streaming services to get some brand exposure or for their athlete to act a certain way on screen. Likewise, from a larger perspective, clubs could use these documentaries to attract more sponsors, which leaves the sport looking like a giant advertisement with no passion for football.
Sports documentaries can be inspiring and entertaining, but they excel in stories like Sunderland until I die. Or an extremely unlikely victory for Leicester City FC in the Premier League in the 2015-2016 season, known as one of the greatest stories in the sport, would be a great example of the stories these documentaries should try to capture. Having a massively streaming library of football documentaries takes away memorable stories like these; And yes, sports should be fun, but it shouldn’t become a business or reality TV opportunity. It should focus on talent, strategy and ambition.