Well, here we go! We are on the eve of the start of this great footballing competiti....
Who am I kidding?
I just don't care.
Really, seriously, I don't care.
And why should I?
England aren't in it; neither are Wales or Scotland. Northern Ireland isn't in it. None of the home countries are taking part in this competition and as such I couldn't give a toss about it. There is no hook there to reel me and the thousands others into watching it. We have no reason to care about the result (except perhaps that old desire to see Germany lose).
However, the BBC seems to think we should care.
Of course they want us to watch the matches they are spending money on and have come up with an advertising campaign hinged around the question of 'who will we support?'
Well, no one.
Because no country I care about supporting is in it.
Now there will still be lots of interest from many football fans out there who just love the beautiful game, but seriously, how are we supposed to get excited about a competition we have no chance of winning because we are not even in it? Don't get me wrong, I like football (though I support Everton), I used to enjoy playing it at school, I like watching my team play and I really enjoy watching my national squad playing (did I say enjoy? I must be a masochist). But I find it difficult to get behind a team that I have no sense of involvement with and as such I don't watch every televised match going (unlike certain friends of mine). I don't religiously watch Sky SportsNews to find out every detail of every player who farted within the last 10 minutes*.
I don't mind that quite a few folk will watch and enjoy Euro 2008 (though due to circumstances I had not thought through I am going to end up watching the opening games tomorrow) but the advertising campaign has been somewhat relentless and there are quite a few of us fair weather fans who couldn't give a stuff because our team is not playing.
It's not just the TV and radio adverts though, the campaign is being waged on all media fronts.
Here is what Gill Hudson, editor of the Radio Times, had to say:
With our national squads firmly on the sidelines, you might think that no-one is going to be witness... ...But you might well be wrong. Given the number of European players currently in British teams, there's more national interest tied up in the European squads than at any other time in footballing history...
What complete rot. Who cares?
When England play (as one example) there is a massive increase in interest from people who at other times would not watch football if you paid them. This sense of national pride can be a huge driver (see Tim Henman/Andrew Murray at Wimbledon).
This year without that I will bet that there will be less folks watching matches in pubs than there were at the last championships; there will be less sick days taken by folk desperate to get home and watch the matches during the day.
I know I won't be watching religiously. In fact I am off on holiday for two weeks next week. Perfect timing I say.
* I think it was Terry Pratchett who once observed that if a child enjoys reading fantasy and/or sci-fi, has posters of Lord of the Rings festooned throughout his bedroom and plays Dungeons and Dragons they tend to get branded as nerdy and a bit worrisome. However if a kid has a bedroom decorated in all shades of Manchester United and sleeps under a Manchester United duvet and only reads fan-zines and game programs society seems to think that is healthy.