Football has elevated time-wasting into a sophisticated art form

While the world obsesses about productivity, football has gone the other way and become creative about frittering away timeBy When Saturday Comes for the Guardian Sport NetworkAs a pastime, or indeed lifestyle, time-wasting is undervalued. To do nothing takes real imagination; to produce nothing requires a strong moral core. The idle person does not, among other things, perform unnecessary cosmetic surgery or release an album of swing covers. The most courageous way of experiencing time is through inaction – to remain quite still and feel the minutes crawl across the face. Time-wasting in football, however, is the preserve of knaves and shysters.The trouble is, while time wasting in everyday life is viewed by the capitalist orthodoxy as weak and suspicious, in football it imparts to its practitioners a level of sophistication. The deliberate act of slowing the game down or breaking the game up, when in the lead, is identified as the opposite of naivety. It has been given a new name, “game management”, elevating low-cunning sabotage into something worthy of a college diploma.

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