The regular football season around the world has ended and it’s clear that football has never been as exciting, unpredictable and entertaining. The ecstasy experienced at seeing your team score a goal in the last minute or the agony of being on the receiving end keeps millions around the world hooked on the beautiful game.
The Barclays Premier League is the most watched around the world, with an estimated cumulative global audience of 4.7 billion, and over nine months, 380 matches are watched in 212 territories.
Barclays believes that it is not just the match being played on the pitch that makes the game what it is; the fans are also one of the most important aspects of the game. With this in mind, Barclays launched the “#YouAreFootball” campaign to see just how connected fans are to the game through measuring their heart rate during a Premier League match.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to partake in the experiment, which took place during the Barclays Premier League (BPL) Live event held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ahead of the match, my resting heart rate was measured at 60bpm and as the kick-off time approached and the excitement mounted for what was pitched as the one of the biggest games of the weekend, my heart was beating at 107 bpm (178% of my resting heart rate).
All football fans know that feeling, the anticipation before kick-off, the belief that your team can emerge victorious and the feeling of being part of something bigger than you can even fathom.
Unfortunately for me, that day ended in disaster; as a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I sat and watched my team concede four goals, not only down to a sublime performance from the Liverpool side but it almost seemed like my side hadn’t turned up to win. Even worse, I was sitting next to a Liverpool fan and fellow journalist Mqondisi Dube.
It began early on; as I was still walking to my seat, I looked up to the large 25m screen in the Zoo Lake fan park to see that Spurs defender Younès Kaboul had scored an own goal. The clock hadn’t even reached the 2-minute mark, and my heart rate increased to 215% with a mixture of anger, disappointment and disbelief.
This was the peak moment of my heart rate chart. Other highlights included a 106bpm and 107bpm when the Liverpool goalkeeper was forced to save two shots. The second highest reading came at the half-time whistle (200%) because Tottenham were trailing by two goals; my anger rose as the Liverpool fans cheered around me.
The second half was not much better, as Liverpool managed to score two more goals.
“Superfans” watching the same game were hooked up to heart rate monitors inside the Anfield stadium in Merseyside and in local bars. Liverpool and Tottenham legends John Aldridge and Gary Mabbutt also took part in the experiment.
Daniel Stanton, who was watching the game in the stadium, shared my disappointment as his heart rate jumped to 200% when Kaboul put the ball into his own net. However, superfan Phatisani Patson Mpofu, who was seated near me in South Africa, was ecstatic at Liverpool taking the lead, recording a whopping 227% of resting heart rate.
The experiment from Barclays shows just how much the passion of the game is shared both on and off the pitch and that the fans are just as important to the game as the players on the pitch.