April is nearly upon us, so that means we are coming to the climax of the football season. I should be getting excited as all the preamble of the winter months is over and now we get to the business end of the season. Except this year I couldn’t care less where AC Milan (the team I support) finish.
Perhaps I no longer care about football? Maybe I’ve got to the point where I no longer have any reactions to twenty-two men running around a pitch other than casual amusement.
This malaise has been creeping up for a while. Where before I would celebrate the highs and shout at the lows of a match now I just shrug my shoulders and change the channel. There is no longer the threat of a sore throat after a penalty shootout, nor the silent brooding that comes from a poor result. I have become ambivalent to game that a few years earlier next-door-but-one neighbours could hear me cheer to.
I was no longer bothered AC Milan had a rubbish season in Serie A last year, the only good thing about the Champions League was the music and playing FIFA or Football Manager was just something to pass the time. Even my fictional achievements on these games felt a bit, well, dull.
Why does a game that held me in such thrall now feel a bit silly and pointless? It’s not as though I feel any less passionate about cricket or rugby, so why should the beautiful game now feel like the sort of sport I would only be interested in at 2am in a sports bar. When did the “world’s game” (TM FIFA) become something I could only be interested in through beer goggles?
In fact the last time I did get invested in a match was after a couple of pints, and that was going to watch a team I didn’t even support (and had never watched play a single match). Being surrounded by thousands of fans who were emotionally invested in the result did make me feel like the game mattered. I cheered when penalties went in, and felt bad when things went the wrong way. I also felt some of that euphoria at the end when Huddersfield won and got promoted to the Championship. In fact that was the best I had felt about football in a long time.
So maybe this is the problem, it’s not that I don’t care about football but that I don’t care when there is nobody else to care along with. Perhaps having nobody to celebrate with, or commiserate with, is the key part of the experience? I’ve always been alone in the teams I support so my their successes and failures have meant nothing to anyone but me and I’ve now grown up to realise that. What’s the point of having an allegiance if there is no one to tell?
So here is the deal football; sometimes I will watch you, sometimes I won’t. When I do I’ll no longer hurl abuse at the screen nor shout so loud people think I’ve lost a limb. I won’t pretend I care and you’ll just carry on as you have before.
Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.