|(Photo taken from Page3sportz)|
I often think about what is that which makes people all over the world, from all sorts of backgrounds, vibrate with football; what is that which, at certain moments, makes even those moderately interested or totally uninterested unable to ignore it. Well, I believe it´s a number of things - both intrinsic to the sport and developed by clubs and federations – and the cultural sector could actually find that there are some lessons to learn here.
Football is emotion, excitement, enthusiasm, expectation, pleasure, joy, pride, pain, satisfaction, disappointment.
Football is also identity, a sense of belonging, of being part of a community that supports the same goals, where all members together celebrate victories and endure defeats.
Football is also sharing and tolerance. One does not only live within his/her own community; the joy and the pleasure are celebrated together with members of other communities, “opponents”.
These are some of football´s intrinsic characteristics and values which make it important in people´s lives (there also exist other characteristics, exactly the opposite of these ones, but it´s the good lessons that matter here). It´s precisely on these characteristics and values that clubs and federations build their ‘collateral offer’, in order to reinforce them and create an extensive family of fans, one of the pillars of their sustainability, both for their direct financial support, but also because they attract sponsorship. I would like to concentrate here on two points that seem relevant for this dicussion:
- Football clubs involve people by sharing extensively and permanently, through their own channels and through the official media, news about their daily life: trainings and games, analyses of strategic decisions, objectives, transfers, injuries, management issues, social events, social work, etc. They also share their feelings, fears, hopes, worries, expectations, wishes and dreams.
- Football clubs also involve people through membership, offering them benefits (mailny some discounts), but also giving them the right to vote, thus sharing responsibility with them of the club´s administration and future. That way, members develop a feeling of ownership, club managers become accountable and members expect them to be so and they often exercise their right to question them, being even able to force resignations.
|(Photo taken from FanIQ)|
I could now start again and say:
Culture is emotion, excitement, enthusiasm, expectation, pleasure, joy, pride, pain, satisfaction, disappointment.
Culture is also identity, a sense of belonging, of being part of a community that supports the same goals, where all members together celebrate victories and endure defeats.
Culture is also sharing and tolerance. One does not only live within his/her own community; the joy and the pleasure are celebrated together with members of other communities, “opponents”.
Culture is all this and much more. These and many more are its intrinsic values. We know it. Other people (the so-called “general public”) also know it. Especially if we talk with everyone about culture in terms each one understands. Because in that case almost everyone realizes that, one way or the other, each one of us, almost everyone, either produces or consumes some kind of cultural product, one they could actually miss if they didn´t have access to it anymore.
I don´t mean to be simplistic, neither do I wish to ignore the difference in scale, nor do I intend to analyze here football´s dark side (which we all know about). Nevertheless, I do believe that some of the means used by football clubs to involve people and guarantee their support (as well as their own relevance in their lives) could also be used by cultural institutions. Let´s imagine:
A cultural institution that publicly announces its mission and specific short, medium and long term objectives; that allows members from its ‘family’ of supporters to have a say; that shares with everyone interested moments from its everyday life (mounting of exhibitions, rehearsals, moments from the staff´s or artists´ everyday work – joys for the things achieved, disappointments for things that went wrong, funny incidents, small secrets, wishes and hopes -, the visitors´ or spectators´ impressions from the experience they had, managers or directors or curators or programmers sharing their ideas about future projects, VIP visitors, partnerships with other institutions, etc.); a cultural institution that would look for ways to make its offer somehow available even to those who cannot access it, physically or financially. In brief, let´s imagine a cultural institution that is not afraid to demystify itself for people of all sorts of backgrounds; and that is not afraid to become more accountable.
Actually, if we think about it, all this is not exactly new for all cultural institutions. There are museums, galleries, theatres, companies, orchestras around the world, both small and big, which - each one according to its resources and at its own scale - do implement some of this. Maybe the impact is not comparable to that of football (maybe it could never be, we are actually talking about two different fields). But there is an impact. And it actually becomes considerable when this attitude becomes part of our strategic planning; when we realize that sharing (plans, thoughts, feelings, responsibility) is a way of building a stronger ‘family’ and gain its support; when we are sincere in our wish to communicate and to involve. Just like it happens in football.
|(Photo taken from The Hindu)|