Liverpool and football have been ripped from us all, and nobody should feel guilty
Just because there are far more important things going on right now doesn’t mean football should be labelled as something insignificant.
When the official announcement was first made about the Premier League being suspended 11 days ago now, my initial reaction – aside from the fact it was obvious the correct decision, and one which should really have been made earlier – was that football, all of a sudden, seemed so insignificant in the wider context of what was happening at the time.
To some extent that is still true, but as the days have passed and society has been radically transformed to the point where we’re all now living in a world we don’t really recognise, it has also brought home just how much football – and indeed, sport in general – actually matters to people’s lives, now that it has been taken away from us indefinitely.
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Whether it be a source of work, a means of social interaction, an escape from the pressures and stresses of our daily routines or simply a thoroughly enjoyable way of passing the time, football gives us purpose, meaning and structure – something to look forward to, plan around, talk about and write about. Without it, there’s an enormous void to fill, amplifying the sheer absence of normality around us.
For lower league clubs whose very existence is so heavily reliant on there being actual football matches to play and for fans to attend, these are particularly terrifying times. For food banks who regularly receive a significant chunk of their donations from match-going supporters, the lack of football will hit hard (though Liverpool, among numerous other Premier League clubs, have stepped in to help out).
For the players themselves, they’re having to put their careers on hold, with many unsure how it will affect their future, in terms of contracts, potential transfers, and so on. They may live very privileged lifestyles, but they’re still human beings with their own set of emotions and anxieties like the rest of us. This can’t be easy for them either. Or for managers, coaching staff, and all those who work in and around clubs on a daily basis performing myriad different roles which help keep everything running.
The point is that it affects all of us in different ways, and it’s entirely reasonable to maintain a healthy sense of perspective, recognising the severity of the crisis and the need to do everything possible to protect public health, while also not just dismissing football as something entirely trivial – which it isn’t.
Over these past few days I have come to recognise just how much I habitually take football (amongst many other things) for granted, to the point whereby I would quite happily watch any live match from any league in the world right now, just to ease those withdrawal symptoms, even though it has only been less than two weeks since Liverpool last played.
Whenever it does eventually return to our screens – almost certainly behind closed doors to begin with – I’ll be sure to appreciate it in a way I never have done previously.