The tension has always been a thing. For example, in 1872, British writer Thomas Hardy was looking for a way to keep readers interested in his serialized novels. So he chose a trick: at the end of a story, his protagonist was holding on to a tuft of grass on a steep slope, and to find out whether he would save himself, the reader had to either buy the next novel or live with the uncertainty. The term “cliffhanger” was born, although the concept had of course existed long before that, for example in the stories from the Arabian Nights by the narrator Scheherazade.
And so to the big serialized novel called Soccer Bundesliga, the 60th volume of which will be published this year, but which has had problems with the thriller factor for quite some time. The cliffhanger before every season has been the question for about two decades: “Will Bayern fall?” And if they pull themselves over the edge ten times in a row, sometimes even without really making an effort, then as a loyal reader you can guess how the eleventh time will turn out.
Especially when the season starts like this. Yes, it was only the first matchday. Yes, such a season is long. Yes, Dortmund won against Leverkusen. But a Munich 5-0 after 42 minutes at Champions League participant Eintracht Frankfurt doesn’t really help as an argument against those who say: Everything is clear anyway. Especially since this opening day also had hints of repetition for a few other open questions. Freiburg? Good again. Union? Good again. Hertha? Again not so good.
Nevertheless, there is still hope for hops
So close the book and put the Bundesliga back on the shelf? Not so fast. Maybe Bayern’s game against Frankfurt wasn’t interesting in terms of who will win? But few will deny that it was entertaining. You don’t go to the dance theater because you’re wondering how the swan from Swan Lake will turn out. And if you don’t want to compare football with high culture right away, you can dig a few floors down into the feuilleton shelves. Hardly anything people watch in the cinema as reliably as superhero films – and they certainly don’t do that because they ask themselves beforehand whether the hero will manage to save the world this time. Most of the time he does it, depending on the studio ten times in a row.
So there is hope for Donata Hopfen, who is entering her first season as head of the league and has to market the Bundesliga abroad. It may be that after matchday 25 it will be difficult again to talk about a championship fight, but by then Jamal Musiala will have done a few nice pirouettes and maybe Bayern Sadio Mané will also put on a cape. “Excitement, stars and international success” has Hopfen defined as important factors for the Bundesliga – and two out of three would not be a bad rate.
However: Hardly anyone watches ballet 34 times a year, and in every superhero film, no matter how flat, the hero needs a task that challenges him at least a little. In this respect, it might not be such bad news for the league that BVB won.