The toxic nature of overrated and underrated

Every so often we football fans find ourselves in a debate about how a certain player should be rated.

Now, debates among football fans rarely come to a conclusion but if they do, the football player in question is either decided to be underrated or overrated. In rare cases, we may even agree that he is perfectly rated!

The problem isn’t discussing football players and their worth. A debate is really good to have. I mean people debate on all sorts of things, right from petrol prices to the president of the country.

determining the worth of something or forming an opinion about one’s value and arguing whether it is unappreciated or over-appreciated is totally normal.

In fact, a discussion like that can reveal many new insights and opinions you never thought of. But in the case of football, rating a player can get very toxic and it is never constant.

The problem is, a player might be underrated, and then as soon as everyone agrees that yes, he is indeed underrated, the pendulum tilts towards the overrated side after a few months have passed by.

Then as soon as everyone forgets about it and the player puts in a few good performances the common consensus, again, becomes that he is Underrated and the cycle continues.

This never-ending cycle is exactly why rating football players is no longer an insightful discussion but just quarreling for the sake of it.

So, now the question arises why does this happen?

Well, the reasons are far more complex and deeply rooted than one can comprehend.

They are a product of how football is watched nowadays which is more of highlights and 15-second reels than actually watching the entire 90 mins of play.

Furthermore, the power of the internet and social media might be accountable for swaying one’s standpoint about a player.

So, let’s delve into two key reasons to understand why a player is underrated, and then declared as overrated 15 days later!

1] Recency bias

Football has a lot of recency bias. A young player is called the next someone if he puts in two good performances. Maybe he’ll be the next Messi or Ronaldo.

This opinion puts a lot of pressure on young minds to perform, and the hype can occasionally get into their heads, resulting in poor performances.

And the moment they fail to perform, they are declared as overrated.

For a much older footballer, the recency bias can lead to calling the player as finished or too old if he fails in a couple of matches.

Football, and society as a whole, are running low on patience. ‘Good things take time’ is a completely ignored proverb in today’s world, and everyone is chasing instant gratification.

In football, you must win, win, and win some more. If you keep doing that, you will be lauded as a hero, but the moment things go wrong, you will be labeled as ‘the flop’ in no time.

Heroes of today can become the villains of tomorrow if they fail to provide.

2] Statistics, statistics, and statistics

It wouldn’t be a surprise if a few years from now Iniesta or David Silva will be called overrated for the lack of numbers in front of their names.

The worth of a football player in today’s time is completely decided by the numbers. Yes, statistics are important but they rarely paint the whole picture.

The eye test is as important as the statistics. Lionel Messi can have a fantastic football match without scoring or assisting anyone.

The magic David Silva created when he played on the Etihad pitch or the class of Andres Iniesta with Barcelona, can never be truly captured through highlights and raw statistics.

You simply had to be there to know their worth. Ronaldinho’s flare and style can never be represented by stupid numbers.

But unfortunately, in today’s time players are rated by raw statistics and not by watching them in the 90 mins.

This is down to the viewing habits of the new-age football fan. Who doesn’t have the attention span or the patience to watch the entire 90 mins of play, and would rather formulate his/her opinion on just raw stats.

Football fans nowadays much prefer to watch highlights of the game and 15-second social media reels than actually invest their time in watching the entire match.

As a result, statistics become the key parameter in rating a football player.

Now a player can easily have a good game even if they are not on the scoresheet. A perfect example will be Jack Grealish against Manchester United in the recent derby. Or Firmino who doesn’t score as much but creates spaces for Mane and Salah to capitalize on.

All these efforts are not translated into surface-level statistics and by the end of the season, such players will be deemed overrated by most by just looking at the raw numbers!

On the other hand, an average player may score 5-6 goals in a short period of time and be considered underrated, only to be overrated a month or so later when their short burst of form diminishes.

This is the exact toxic nature of rating football players and it needs to stop!

But it never will, will it?