(take that political correctness)
In case you were not made aware by that title (and, seeing that some of you come from Kenya and Hong Kong, I wouldn’t count on it being universally understood), I am a fan of Tottenham Hotspur football club and I am going to tonight’s Europa League match against Benfica; don’t worry if you’re not particularly into football, or sports more broadly, this won’t be the sort of tactical analysis post I initially envisioned by blog deteriorating into, for today I will try to explain why I want to sit in a freezing stadium with disgruntled middle-aged men I don’t know, and get annoyed for an hour and a half that the eleven players I arbitrarily like are rolling a sphere around a lawn slower than I would ideally like them to.
Going to football matches is great fun on a purely objective level; the high vantage points provide the best angles to be actually positionally aware of how our team is playing – because no amount of high-def fifty-inch pixels can replicate seeing an actual football pitch with one’s own eyes – and it is much easier to gauge the extent of discontent with our team’s performance by being at a game than reading about it on The Guardian.
But emotionally, it’s great fun. Not because you’re ‘part of the occasion’ – such a statement suggests sitting at home and being angry at the game with my Dad is somehow more meaningfully distant than shelling out 40 quid to do it on slightly more uncomfortable seats – but because it’s a lot easier to get lost in the stupid importance of it all.
I know that football, as a concept not a business, is largely irrelevant in society, but its irrelevance is diminished when 30,000 other people, with real lives and real problems, can put those qualms to one side for a bit, get slightly drunk and watch some sports. At home, on the other hand, I spend half-time checking my iPod to learn that Russia’s invading Ukraine, a Malaysian plane has gone inexplicably missing, or a friend of mine is suffering an expected, but still painful, breakup. Hell, I even get notifications from these things while I’m watching the damn game sometimes.
And the arbitrarity of it all makes it a lot more fun; I’m not discussing politics, which will continue to exist and impact my life after an hour and a half have passed, but I’m discussing the abject lack of creativity in our central midfield, a problem that won’t bother me one bit unless I want it to; sports is a fundamentally relaxing hobby, because its importance to me can be switched on and off, while other interests cannot. And going to a place to exercise this on-and-off enjoyment is a good time, as a result.
Also, going to the Lane serves as a legitimate day out; I can hang out with my Dad, laugh at the funny pictures of us getting beat by Norwich in the (totally not overpriced) programme, and get some chips on the way home, and totally forgetting about my Diabetes in the process, for about thirty five minutes, at which point I’ll get home and then shout at myself for having a high blood sugar.
Going to matches also feeds my insane idealism; I’m only seventeen, the prime age to make a debut for Tottenham and win them the game, a dream fuelled by my intentional ignorance of the player-registering legalities of professional football. There are the dreams of running onto the pitch to slap that one player who’s been crap all season, the hopeless goal of shouting some tactical advice to our manager, built on years of Football Manager experience, who will then implement it to great, job-threatening, failures.
But most of all, it gives me an idea for a post on an otherwise uncreative day.