A taxonomy of the viral football video

A taxonomy of the viral football video

The internet’s relentless free-for-all has claimed so many victims: local newspapers, HMV, the Rothmans Football Yearbook, high-street travel agents, the kudos of getting to No 1 in the charts, everything. Most tragically of all, it has squashed the raison d’être of the finest niche football genre of all: the blooper DVD.

Where once the producers of A Question of Sport could be confident that neither team captain, the studio audience or the millions watching at home were likely to have seen the clip they’d unearthed for the “What Happened Next?” round, there is now almost zero mystique to moments of extreme footballing curiosity.

One by one, the gatekeepers of football consumption have been eliminated, particularly when it comes to the viral video. If its primetime period can be identified, it’s probably any point from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning; a window that begins from the very moment something hilarious, unusual, brilliant, awful (or any combination of those things) happens, and persisting until your very last co-worker leans across to utter the magic words: “Have you, er, have you seen this?!”

We could spend the next 20 paragraphs or so examining the emergence of viral video clips as a medium of consuming football – what it means for society, our brains, broadcasting subscription models, copyright – or we can just get down to the nuts and bolts of it all. The latter, you say? Excellent.

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