From player to punditry
The ever increasing media coverage given to football means that the post-playing career path of football punditry is becoming a more popular and accessible choice for players. With the definition of a pundit being 'a source of opinion' and 'an expert', is a successful playing career enough to qualify an individual for a position in broadcasting?
It is agreed that being a great player does not guarantee being a great manager, and the same logic is applied to a career in the media in that top players do not always make top pundits. The reasons for this are varied but can include a difficulty in articulating views in a coherent manner to being one of those players who took no interest in the tactical side of the game and who only focused on their own individual role within a team.
There are of course several players who are able to make the transition from controlling the ball to mastering the microphone and what therefore is expected in the analysis offered by such former professionals? Do the viewers or listeners prefer run of the mill clichéd opinion, banter and in-house jokes or valuable insight into why teams and players perform in a certain way?
Jack Ross is a regular pundit on BBC Scotland
My own personal preference is for the latter, and yet I would suggest it is not always provided, partly because a desire to become the loudest and last voice in a debate becomes of the higher importance, and sometimes because a lack of knowledge of lesser known players and teams, a problem precipitated simply by a lack of research.
This personal opinion is certainly not universal but there is no doubt that a career in football can provide a great platform for broadcasting work and therefore players should approach this opportunity with the same dedication and application as was afforded to training and matches.
One potential difficulty for former players offering opinions on television or radio is the possibility of offending those within the game. I must admit that, when I played, receiving criticism from players turned pundits (or indeed journalists) never troubled me too much. I think most players would feel the same as long as the criticism was not sensationalist and bordering on disrespectful.
I am not saying I enjoyed criticism, but then I do not think anyone in any walk of life revels in it, but I accepted it as part of my profession. With former players, I actually got more agitated by one describing me not by name but as the 'big winger' as I played at full back in a match he was summarising highlights for.
I certainly was not offended because I believed I was such a good player that he should instantly recognise me but because surely being paid for sitting in a studio means that knowing players names is not too big an ask!
The majority of players who contribute on radio and television, and there are some who do it very well, occupy the position of summariser or analyst. However, in other sports such as rugby, cricket and athletics, they have utilised the expertise of former competitors in other roles meaning a combination of very good knowledge of their respective sport and good broadcasting ability makes them able to present or interview.
Although there are exceptions in football such as Gary Lineker on Match of the Day it seems our sport is reluctant to trust former players with roles which could be considered out of their comfort zone.
Much is made of an urgent need to repackage Scottish football, from the size of our leagues to the timing of the season, but what about the broadcasting of our game. Are there instances where we do not always promote our football in the best light and do we make the best of the resources we have available? Perhaps we do, but could the demand for revolution include what is being offered to an expectant audience?
More players than ever are keen to break into the world of broadcasting, and with increased competition should come an assurance of higher standards.