Football – Whether You Like It Or Not

One can never be truly apart from the phenomenon of Football Fandom. Even if you don’t support the sport or even understand it, you will likely know someone who does, or your life will still be touched by it, most often as conversations about it happen around you in the office among fourteen of your colleagues.

For me, it’s a game about kicking the modern version of pigskin around a field until someone can kick it through a standing rectangle at either end (the person achieving this feat is hugged en masse). It’s two lots of 45 minutes of watching the ball being moved around the field by jerseys with numbers on, punctuated by pauses for regrouping after the ball escapes outside the pitch boundaries or after one player has been naughty to another. It’s endlessly dull. My spirit animal, Moss from channel 4’s seminal comedy series The IT Crowd, expresses this perfectly:

But if you’re into football my god there’s no end of fun to be had! No end of matches to watch! Literally no end given its cyclical nature.

There is no end to the conversations fans can have about football either. These conversations repeat ad infinitum with only the details changing:

  • Your teams’ progress before/during/after a given match/season/championship event
  • Your team’s strategy before/during/after a given match/season/championship event
  • Your teams history
  • Your teams’ players
  • Players that could/should be in your team (important during Transfer windows and player contract ends)
  • Your teams’ manager
  • Managers that could/should run your team
  • Your teams’ business health & decisions
  • Player/Manager salaries (doubly exciting during Transfer windows and player contract ends)
  • Specific sporting fixtures/events
  • All of the above for your second team (i.e. if you’re Scottish but also support an English Premier League team)
  • All of the above for every other team, local or international, you are interested in, foreign or domestic
  • Your fantasy team (the ultimate team of your dreams)
  • Stadiums
  • The rules of the game
  • Refereeing decisions in specific games
  • Penalties awarded to players
  • Kits (Home and Away)(NB: these change every year)
  • Fans
  • Childrens’ football.
  • Technology (e.g. new shoe or ball materials)
  • Politics (of Football bodies – FIFA, etc, and also UK politics)
  • [Scotland only] Sectarianism in football

…it probably goes on but I think I can feel a major artery about to burst in protest. Hmm, some organs have just handed me a petition asking me to stop, signed by – oh wow – every cell in my body.

I don’t like football but I have heard every single one of these conversations at one point or another, each more times than I can remember. Which is…frustrating. I’d like to escape it but even as a self-confessed Loner & Introvert that’s not always easy to do. Because football is so mainstream, so prevalent, it is more likely than not THE topic of conversation by which to engage male humans of all ages, and they can happen anywhere people meet. Avoid people entirely (which I frequently do) and you’ll still likely hear chants out in the street, or have it erupt on your radio unexpectedly while driving in a car (fine if it’s your car but holy shit its torture when it’s not). You can’t buy a newspaper or visit a news website without sport being heavily featured (and we’re talking 80% football, 10% tennis (summer only, otherwise 90% football), 10% the rest).

There are times I really fucking hate football. Just fuck off and leave me alone, why don’t you? I don’t bother you!

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