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Coronavirus log: Why there is nothing wrong with missing sport




I miss sport - there, I said it! And do you know what? I'm not ashamed to admit it either.

I've spoken to a lot of individuals within our local community in recent weeks following the necessary shutdown of sport. There are those that are optimistic we'll get some sort of action returning over the coming weeks and months, while others don't expect much to happen until we're a good way into 2021.

Either way, I report what they have to say and it gets printed in our newspapers, as well as published on our websites. In the main the response from readers has been positive, but there are still some who question why people are even discussing the return of sport when there are still sadly far too many losing their lives to this invisible killer.

Coronavirus Log (33691676)
Coronavirus Log (33691676)

Now, I am by no means downplaying the severity of what is happening right now. Indeed, I experienced the impact of the coronavirus last month when we said goodbye to my nan - a moment I wrote about here. Absolutely nothing is more important than people's health and safety, and sport should not even entertain the prospect of coming back until the time is right.

Yet, should we be made to feel like we are being insensitive for yearning for some live and meaningful action? Surely, you can be utterly aghast at what is unfolding across the world and miss sport - the two are not mutually exclusive, are they?

Football is my major passion and the main reason I do what I do. As soon as it was abundantly clear I was never going to be good enough to earn any sort of living from the game, I wanted to write about it.

Myself (centre) getting a bit carried away after a Manchester United goal!
Myself (centre) getting a bit carried away after a Manchester United goal!

The great thing about football is that it matters so much to so many, and yet when all is said and done, it's utterly meaningless. I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to getting swept away, planning my week around when Manchester United are playing and subsequently being in a foul mood when they get beaten.

The beauty of football is that there is always next week, the next season to right those wrongs and all of the optimism/pessimism that comes with it. Accept right now, there isn't, and we don't know when there will be that 'next' again. Sad as it may sound, I feel more than slightly lost without it.

As as fan, I miss those moments of ecstasy. Those last-minute winners your team hasn't deserved, those debates in pubs and clubhouses about team selection that don't in fact have a right answer, the scrolling through Twitter hoping to see that a rival team has lost. That sense of them against us, and the camaraderie it produces.

There is also the social aspect. For some, football clubs - and this goes for all of the ones we at Iliffe East cover - provide a structure for some people. Those Saturday afternoons, the Tuesday evenings - it gives people a sense of belonging and sometimes a welcome distraction from the trials and tribulations of every day life. I know the same can also be said for a lot of the players in our local sides.

FOOTBALL: Mildenhall v NewmarketFA Vase action Archer clears with James Seymour Luke Butcher Mildenhall Picture by Mark Westley. (33691781)
FOOTBALL: Mildenhall v NewmarketFA Vase action Archer clears with James Seymour Luke Butcher Mildenhall Picture by Mark Westley. (33691781)

It brings people together that otherwise would have nothing else in common. There are people that I class as good friends who I have met through football, and would not have done so without it.

And I also miss it from a work perspective. I enjoy the day-to-day business of getting a newspaper out there, and I've also liked looking back at some nostalgia of late.

But nothing beats going to a game and covering it. It's the one thing about my job which is completely different from one game to the next. You can never be 100 per cent sure what is going to happen and that is why I do it.

The last match I covered was on March 14. I'd normally be working at games higher up the non-league pyramid, but with the coronavirus having wiped out a lot of fixtures already by that point, I found myself heading over to Isleham United for their cup semi-final against Bassingbourn.

FOOTBALL: Isleham v Bassingbourn, Isleham United advance into William Coad Intermediate Cup. Isleham celebrate. Picture by Mark Westley. (33691806)
FOOTBALL: Isleham v Bassingbourn, Isleham United advance into William Coad Intermediate Cup. Isleham celebrate. Picture by Mark Westley. (33691806)

And you know what, I loved it. Isleham scored a scruffy late equaliser and then won a dramatic penalty shootout - perfect! Sadly, they'll never get to play that final.

The cricket season should also be under way now. The Olympics should be on the horizon. The French Open feeding into Wimbledon is always an enjoyable period for tennis fanatics. In Newmarket, The Guineas have been shelved, as has The Derby. And what about Euro 2020?

After all of the good feeling generated by the 2018 World Cup across the nation, it felt like football could indeed be coming home this summer. These absences will all leave big holes in people's lives.

We should never apologise for missing sport, nor for how it makes us feel, even in the most horrific of situations.


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