Does Gen Z Really Want Shorter Games?

Despite The Super League going official on Sunday, much of the new competition’s finer details are still shrouded in mystery (except for the part where the 15 founding clubs make a lot of money). 

The operation has been largely spearheaded by Real Madrid’s Florentino Pérez, Manchester United’s Joel Glazer and Juventus’ Andrea Agnelli, and we finally heard directly from the horse’s mouth on Monday evening as Pérez (the first chairman of The Super League) spoke at length on Spanish TV program El Chiringuito

Pérez outlined how The Super League’s main purpose is to “save football because the situation is bad,” and how one of the keys to doing that is reaching these tech-savvy kids who would rather TikTok than tiki-taka.        

"Football has to change and adapt,” Pérez said. “We have to analyze why young people, 16-to-24-year-olds, 40 percent of them aren't interested in football. Why? Because there are a lot of low-quality games, and they have other entertainment platforms.

"It's a reality. They say the games are too long. We have to change something if we want football to stay alive. Sometimes we don't understand our children or grandchildren. They're different generations, the world changes. If young people don't watch an entire game, it's because it isn't interesting enough, or we'll have to shorten the games.”

This was surprising to me. Here in the U.S., MLS viewers have an average age lower than that of the four leagues that’ve traditionally dominated public discourse (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL), and 15 percent of viewers are younger than 18. And this isn’t only true of MLS, it’s true of soccer in general stateside with the EPL (10% under 18), UEFA Champions League (13% under 18) and Liga MX (17% under 18) outlining the strength of the game’s younger core audience. 

But what Pérez says goes, so I decided I needed to infiltrate the mind of one zoomer to figure out how the entire generation works. Having determined this course of action, my first feeling was that of immense fear: What if they make fun of me? What if I’m not cool anymore? I haven’t even played Minecraft yet.

Then I remembered my 22-year-old colleague David Moore, who still scares the shit out of me with his hip hop beats and digital nativity, but the terms of his employment dictate that he doesn’t kick my ass. 

Journey with me inside the mind of the Super League’s target demographic. 

Connor Fleming: David, thank you for joining me. Are you still paying attention? Is it true that Gen Z has the same attention span as a goldfish? 

David Moore: Our attention spans really took a hit ever since Vine came out. While our attention spans might not be equivalent to the goldfish, I will say that we are also a snack that smiles back.

CF: When we hired you we didn’t know you’d spend the vast majority of your time SnapChatting your Fortnite games, but here we are. Do you ever feel bad about abandoning us geezers in your unending pursuit of being the last man standing in Battle Royale? 

DM: Believe it or not but the 16-to-24-year-olds have lost our Fortnite throne to the 13-year-olds of the world. Those sweaty little bastards have ruined the Battle Royale game and now I engage in the endless struggle of Rocket League. But no, I have never felt an ounce of remorse for leaving you geezers who probably still play Pong, use cable and receive a local newspaper.

CF: If football matches were as long as your average TikTok, would that pique your interest?

DM: Will Charli D'Amelio be there? Is she going to do the play-by-play commentary and hit the renegade at the same time? LESSS GOOOOO.

CF: Many studies have shown that Gen Z is more focused on the collective good, as well as social activism. What is it about The Super League (meritless, sportswashing, welfare for billionaires) that is so obviously appealing and in line with your desire to do right in the world? 

DM: Florentino Pérez is clearly the biggest activist in the world right now. The way he is willing to kill off an entire sport for the greater good really plays at our heart strings.

CF: If we allowed you to vape inside stadiums, would you consider going to a match? 

DM: Wait, I'm not supposed to be doing that? I've been fiendin’ for a mint juul pod ever since this interview started.

CF: What if the traditional method of keeping score (ball passing the goal-line for a point value of one) was replaced by an emoji-based correlation? For example: 

Is this the future?

The score is "cool guy" to "pile of shit." There's no way back for NYCFC now!

Would this make more sense to you?

DM: Absolutely. The 2014 World Cup semifinal of Germany vs. Brazil would have been triple rocket ship to death face.

CF: Sure, the older generations handed y’all some issues — climate change, economic uncertainty, debt, the explosion of sexism and racism that accompanied the election of America’s first true demagogue, housing instability, cost of living, yada yada — but how far does this gift from the boomers go toward atoning for all that?

DM: All will be forgiven if Señor Pérez lets us see Arsenal and Tottenham get their shit kicked in by Real Madrid and Barcelona on a weekly basis. Thank you Grand Master Boomer Pérez.

CF: Is there any other way that we could possibly reach you that we haven’t thought of? More celebs? Each team is made up of half footballers/half YouTube influencers? Matches staged in a dystopian arena full of natural and automated dangers? Antoine Griezmann choreographs any and all goal celebrations around the planet? 

DM: More halftime shows featuring DaBaby, Pete Davidson sideline reporting and that giant Jake Paul robot on the touchline will suffice.

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