The passion, the pride, the pageantry makes football a sport like no other. Like it or hate it, for a brief moment it connects and unites the world. For thousands of years sport has existed (some argue alongside religion) as the leading medium through which such bonding takes place. When watching a game the excitement is contagious as you’re sucked into the players reality, a world where they have spent thousands of hours and a lifetime training all for this moment.
“The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”
Football is a tribalism. It’s not your family, your work or your duty. The more committed fans and players described it as their religion; it’s your tribe that you fight for. You become attached to your tribe, and it’s an attachment passed down through generations. You’re not born and one day and think, ‘hey, I’ll support this team
.’ Your team preference is passed down to you, a legacy. Attend any junior game and you will see the gleam in parents’ eyes, their faces filling with pride and joy, knowing that many moons ago they also stood on this pitch with their parents shouting encouragements to them from the side lines, and with that comes the realization that football helps bring families together; it’s something so universal that all children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have participate in.
But what about the people who take it too far? The people who think football is a matter of life and death. Fans have been known to be intentionally discriminative to players of opposing teams, valuing their team and winning more than human lives. The pressure on the players themselves is huge, a bad game unlike a bad day at work which can quickly be forgiven, can be discussed and scrutinised for decades to come. Depressive mood swings and antisocial behavior can be regular theme for a footballer as well as anxiety and alcoholism. One in four f
ootball players will at some point during their career experience some level of brain injury during their career due to extensive and regular concussions. In the heat of the game it’s often forgetting that these players are people with feelings, vulnerabilities and pain receptors just like the rest of us mortals. As Shylock said in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice “If you prick
us, do we not bleed?”
Whatever your stance on football is, as you survey a crowd of fans, their faces etched with worry when a player gets injured like they are watching a member of their family get hurt, it’s then you realized that football makes everyone a family to the players.
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