Dysfunctions of a noble award

Boy (left) has won the beMobile Premier League Player of the Month twice
Boy (left) has won the beMobile Premier League Player of the Month twice

Under the functionalist sociological theory, everything works like clock or even faster. All concepts function normally and the society is viewed as remaining generally stable. Critics are however quick to point out what the proponents of this theory overlooked; dysfunctions.

Functionalists assume that the news media is meant to inform, entertain and educate; they ignore the vital fact that the same platform can misinform, bore or worse still, not even reach its intended target.

When the beMOBILE Player of the Month award was launched at the beginning of the current soccer season, the idea appeared noble. It was meant to galvanise players and propel them to new levels of performance.

It was seen as the right tonic to improve the players’ individual standard which, in turn, would enhance the quality of the league and football as a whole.

After all, leading leagues like the ABSA Premiership and the Barclays English Premier League have long introduced this concept.

Locally, the proponents of this concept assumed all would work accordingly, with minimum hitch. Although from the onset, there was an overwhelming feeling that the prize money of P1,500 was a kick in the groin.

The expectation was that fans would vote for a deserving player and not necessarily their favourite player hence the name ‘player of the month’.  Although there are no statistics, the fans have already proved that teams, rather than an individual’s brilliance, is the gateway to success. It can be argued such a voting pattern has proved critical in the last two months.

Township Rollers attacking midfielder, Segolame Boy has won in two consecutive months, despite other players raising their hands higher than the Zebras midfielder.

Green Lovers striker, Moathodi Ralesotha had a dream debut with the Premierships’ new boys, banging nine goals in four matches; a feat that has not been achieved in the new era.

However, he lost the award to Boy in August, when the technical committee tasked with choosing the player of the month had given him the nod. The fans, effectively the custodians of the award, gave it to Boy.

Police XI had a good September with Zebras fringe player, Tapiwa Gadibolae, Phenyo Molefe and Joseph Joseph propelling the Cops to second position.

Miscellaneous’ Keolopile Moremi had a decent month, but the players coming from relatively ‘obscure teams’ were ignored when the fans voted. The technical team picked Gadibolae as September’s best player.

At a workshop held at the beginning of the season, beMOBILE reiterated the need to reap benefits from its association with the Premier League.

The introduction of the player of the month award is clearly one such objective where the sponsor gets return on investment.

Fans have been voting in numbers and the sponsor is getting value for their money. But the unintended consequences must force a re-think. Just two months in, players from less popular clubs are already holding the shorter end of the stick, while the sponsor emerges as the biggest winner. beMOBILE is acutely aware of financial consequences if fans are restricted to voting for nominees, particularly from teams with fewer supporters.

Assuming all nominees come from less popular sides, the votes would decline and this would mean reduced  returns for the sponsor. However, the status quo might stay despite evident loopholes.

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