Breaking up with Football

Back in late September/October I came to a disturbing realisation – I didn’t enjoy football anymore. I had completely lost interest in the game. I thought maybe it was due to burnout as I used to gorge on the sport, I watched a highlights show once a week, two or three games and read about it every day, not to mention the Football Manager addiction. I wouldn’t say my whole life revolved around football because I have lots of other interests, but it definitely took up a big chunk of my time. So it was a shock when I realised I just didn’t care anymore.

I don’t think there was an exact moment it happened, I just had a slow realisation that it didn’t matter to me whether the team I supported won or lost. It was a weird feeling at the time because I’d been a football fan almost since the day I was born and most of my family (especially my dad) and friends are into it as well. I tried watching matches but I just got bored.

Southampton FC were riding high, the newly promoted side were atop the Championship table. After a few depressing years finally things were looking up. There were shock results in the Premier League, new teams were challenging for the title while old ones were going through a transition. It all made for fascinating viewing and it promised to be a season with many twists and turns, culminating in the European Championships, where England would look to vastly improve after their dismal World Cup. And yet I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm at all.

I suppose I got tired that it had such an effect on moods. It was never so drastic with me, but with a lot of supporters if their team loses it puts them in a bad mood, or if they win they’re elated. And I just don’t like the idea of my moods being so heavily influenced by something which I have no real control over and let’s face it, the clubs always pay tribute to the fans but it’s not as if they know you on an individual basis. I just find it a bit false how people say “WE won today”, when they contributed nothing to the result. People don’t go to a concert and say “we put on a great show tonight”.

At its heart football is meant to entertain. Part of that is the pain and anguish but the reactions are so overblown, calling a defeat a tragedy. Every match is seen as a ‘must-win’ or a ‘crunch’ match. When in reality the club will still go on. There’s so much made of the changing fortunes of a club (it doesn’t help that the media are so reactionary) and so much hyperbole that you’d think even if the world was ending the headline would revolve around football. Teams win, teams lose, it’s not a crisis, there’s always another game and another season.

I also hated the tribal mentality. There are some disgusting chants shouted and because they’re part of a mass crowd and it’s at a sporting event it’s almost seen as acceptable to hurl abuse at people just trying to do their job. Casual racism and homophobic phrases are tossed about under the veil of passion and it saddens me that a game can be used for such vile behaviour. I realise football does do a lot for equality and fair play, but there are certain sections of crowds which display vile behaviour and I grew tired of it. We live in a civilized world and people should act that way.

It’s interesting now to look at the world as someone who doesn’t have a particular interest in football. I still can’t ignore it, because it’s so pervasive. It’s actually threaded into our culture and it’s such a staple of small talk that it makes it harder to find common ground with a lot of people. So many people I know identify themselves as a ‘____ fan’ it feels very peculiar to not be able to join in with the banter and idle conversation. Indeed, the only regret I have is that my love of football was one of the few things I shared with my father, so it’s sad that there’s one less thing to talk to him about. But I won’t miss football, and football won’t miss me.

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