Soccer highlights are, for better or for worse, part of the fan’s viewing experience. This is particularly true in the United States for two reasons.

For one, soccer highlights allow fans to catch up on games they missed due to other commitments. Whether that be work, sleep or anything in between, the European kickoff times do not necessarily align with American standards. Highlights allow fans to commit to other things. Concurrently, they stay relatively in the know when it comes to the world of soccer.

Secondly, soccer fans across the globe follow multiple players, teams, leagues or countries. Few fans say they only watch one club’s games. This is not to say they are not a fan of a certain club. Instead, that one club may only play twice a week. Meanwhile, there are games every day in some competition that overlap in kickoff times. Soccer highlights make it easy to see the biggest moments from across the sport while still focusing on one game as it happens.

On-demand games are an option, depending on the league, as not every streaming service carries replays. However, like live games, these are lengthy affairs. Few fans have the time to truly watch all games in a league, even on demand.

Therefore, soccer highlights play a role in the viewing experience in some way, shape or form. The most common spot for highlights is social media. YouTube has full game highlights. Twitter has highlights immediately after something happens. TikTok has compilations of soccer highlights for certain players or clubs.

Yet, these soccer highlights can be a hinderance to the viewing experience. People develop predispositions based off small clips instead of getting the game as a whole.

Do soccer highlights impact your viewing experience?

Highlights are, more often than not, goals. Some highlight providers on YouTube, such as NBC or CBS, provide ‘full game’ highlights. These videos run about 10 to 15 minutes, and they show the goals, saves, bookings or other dramatic moments. Other YouTube channels provide shorter highlights. Essentially, it is just goals. The five minute videos do not bring much attention to the complexities of the game. Yet, they do allow us to see who scored, how they scored and who is, more or less, responsible defensively.

The bad

This modified version of watching the game does not make it balanced. It rewards goals more so than defending. Granted, goals get fans on their feet far more than defending. The most storied moments in the sport are goals, not blocks, sorry defenders of the world.

Yet, defensive midfielders can get tossed to the side in these highlight videos. N’golo Kanté, one of Leicester City and Chelsea’s most integral players over the years, is not someone who would appear in a highlight video. Casual fans do not want to see a feisty midfielder win the ball back, they want to see Riyad Mahrez, Eden Hazard or Raheem Sterling, all teammates of Kanté, take a defender on and score.

Same goes for Manchester City’s Rodri. Rodri is one of the best holding midfielders in the world. However, he takes a back seat in highlight videos to the much flashier Kevin de Bruyne or Erling Haaland, despite Rodri getting the play started from its core.

Fact of the matter remains, highlights can impact our understanding of a player’s role. For example, Karim Benzema said that the modern game puts more emphasis on being the man on the end, instead of the one in creation.

“Football has become a game where players can play bad for 90 minutes and then score a goal and be called Man of the Match and get the spotlight. I don’t want to be that kind of a player.”

Highlights certainly play a role, as the person on the scoresheet is the ‘savior’ of the day.

The Good

Again, it is give and take. When there is only so much time in the day, some things in highlight videos get sacrificed to see the moments that define a match. In many cases, people find themselves watching YouTube videos in between games or during half time of other fixtures. It is devotion to the game where applicable.

As a soccer fan, do you ever find yourself watching more highlights than actual games? Why might that be?