An Athletic for the future

ORnot, like so many thousands, has been with Athletic since he was born. He has no more merit being in addition to Bilbao and liking football, although it seems that sometimes the sport and the team, football and Athletic, are contradictory, especially after the last two finals and the finals of the last seasons. Not so much for losing, but for limiting oneself, for not putting all the meat on the grill, for not competing.

However, throughout our lives we may change jobs, cars, pets, houses, votes, partners, but we will never stop being Athletic. And it is that it is an emotion, a very deep feeling, which also comes from afar – we are transmitting it for generations – and makes us feel, even if we have many decades behind us, eternally children. This, they will tell me, is not original, which also happens with all the hobbies in the world. But they will be with me, in that the unusual thing here is that those who have played, play or will play, have been, are or will be, our relatives, friends or neighbors. Does this happen in any top-tier professional team in any sport in the world?

One who is from the end of the fifties of the last century and who lived as a kid near the Bilbao City Hall, remembers how he went with the crew to see the welcome to Athletic and how the team came out to say hello – right now I am visualizing Iribar, Sáez, Etxeberria, Aranguren, …- showing the recently won Cup; and what we did at the end of the event was meet with other crews for the following year in the same place, since seeing Athletic champion seemed to us the most natural thing in the world.

Soccer, which appeared in these parts at the end of the 19th century as a game between friends, as simple as it was entertaining, in which big and small boys, slow and fast kids could play -Albert Camus, Nobel Prize winner for literature and goalkeeper in his young times, he used to say that a man could not feel better than in a stadium- it became more complicated over the years. With professionalism, with the permissive regulations with players from other galaxies, with the unlimited management of funds, with the peculiar distribution of television manna, with the representatives, with the commission agents, with the threat of a European super league, with the irruption of funds investment, …

And in this context, a club so unique moves that it continues to play in a romantic plan, facing world teams, with the weapons of feelings, in a sport that long ago lost the essence of healthy competition. The financialization of the economy, short-termism, the prevalence of the financial objective, the end that justifies the means, … are characteristics of today’s world and football, seen as a large cash register that moves billions, is no stranger to this vision.

Given this scenario and as soon we will have a change of directors, I dare as an athlete, to make some suggestions.

The first is that, although I would love for all of Athletic to be from Casco Viejo like Pichichi and with 64 Basque surnames as his uncle Unamuno boasted, I consider that we must continue to rely exclusively on ours as long as they give the level required to be competitive in a elite sport and if not, we must gradually open the range without losing the preponderance of the quarry philosophy. Competition wakes up, improves production and adjusts costs.

The second, that we set the achievement of not only personal but team goals (titles, league position, participation in European competitions, …) the collection of the players’ emoluments (large for ordinary mortals).

I love philosophy. The word comes from the Greek and etymologically means love of wisdom. Although some say that it is something useless, it serves to open the mind, to have critical thinking, to be able to change your opinion in a reasoned and educated way. And ultimately it is what I propose, that we adapt our peculiar philosophy to the new times. Let us be ambitious. I don’t want to settle for simply continuing to travel in the first division. I want to be a child again, see an Athletic champion again (or at least really try) and be able to share it with my children and grandchildren. To a team that leaves its skin, not only with the greatest but with everyone. To some professionals who are willing to not demand to charge above their market value.

Finally, if we want to continue another 125 years in the elite, getting out of mediocrity and not letting titles escape without playing them, we should generate hope as a modern company, with Strategic Planning and Action Plans. The best fans in the world deserve it. he

* Analyst

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An Athletic for the future