You may find it hard to believe, but I was committed to this topic whatever the result of the game today. It started building in my head a week ago, but amongst travels and events I ran out of steam to put pen to paper. At some point earlier I feared I might hve to write ‘I love football, despite today’ but luckily I did not loose faith (or face).
As crowds gather around stadiums and TVs, I am ready for another round of excitement. I have lived this excitement since I was a small kid. The build up, getting ready, finding my shirt, getting into the stadium, the teams arrival, and all that jazz. To this day I cherish those moments and I now started sharing them with my kids. We don’t give enough room for spontaneous joy and play in our lives. So as I just enjoy flags up and the possibility of a victory, I make way for little butterflies to build up and shake my system.
My football team has an old motto:
While they were often away from glory as I grew up (more to come on that), my devotion never faded. I start a game with the team’s anthem and close my eyes to inhale what it means to me. I find that with age I even tear up. That’s age for me, though tears have never been strange in my past anyway. Today, I missed the national anthem as the kids screamed their way into the house. I was mad angry. I lost it and took quite a long time to find my pure state of devotion. Somehow, I did not feel as connected, at least until the first missed goal brought all my emotions to the surface. After that, I was all in.
Speaking of emotions, people can get very emotional no doubt. Too much, one would say. But for the little girl always containing her emotions and finding a place of righteousness, going to the stadium was a release. Whilst swear words were off limits for a long time (and still are when my Dad is around), that did not stop me from real suffering and real celebration. Real emotions. Looking back, I think it spared me years of therapy. I think there is a guy that sits close to us in the Sporting Stadium that still needs therapy, because his emotions are still too much though! No doubt I know people can exaggerate a fair amount when they let off steam, but I am not advocating for that! A small release of emotions is fine, and healthy.
Did you know that the positive stress emanating from an elevated heart rate has been observed to be similar to a moderate workout?
When I am watching football, I don’t care about much else. I have a very limited ability to multi-task or multi-think. For me, that is a luxury. Even in the boring parts (yes, there are some), I rarely reach out for my phone and I rarely find myself dwelling into work or life matters. It is mindfulness at its core. Or at least, it is the best type of mindfulness I know how to do. And if it gets a bit boring here and there, that is probably a good thing.
The joy of a goal is an extraordinary immediate moment of joy. The anticipation can be a killer but the joy is a rare moment in many lives. I think that is part of the reason why so many people get hooked. We spend our lives foreboding joy (remember Brene Brown?). In a moment of happiness, we wonder about what can go wrong. In a moment of bliss we watch out for danger. Well, in a moment of goal, the celebration is imperative and even if the VAR comes back to haunt you, you have lived through it. How many of us really enjoy that one moment of celebration without watching our back, or worrying about the next thing, or feeling exhausted about the path to get there. This joy you can just sit and watch.
Football is not always about winning. I think that is reason #2 for Hubby B not putting a fight when I got the kids to support Sporting (my team). Reason #1 is because I can be a pain.
Sporting does not win consistently, and whilst they are a top team, they annoyingly make their lives harder by not killing some games as easily as they could or should. A bit like the Portuguese national theme really. I would like a team that goes for the 6-1 rather the 1-0, but that is not what I have. And that builds resilience. I grew up knowing how to lose, but remaining loyal. Sporting won a championship the year I was born and the year I turned 18 (and a few more after that). Going through teenage years as a vocal football fan, missing dinner parties to go to games, arriving with little voice to clubs after a defeat definitely built resilience. For many years, it was the one thing in life I stood up for myself. Mockery did not last long. I was more resilient than any of those around me. At least in football terms, but also in life.
Football has a beginning and an end. There is nothing you can do to change it, there is no going back in time. What can not be fixed is not a problem. My football hangover probably lasts for a maximum of 30 minutes post game, be it good or bad, and definitely never past bedtime. If you face football the right way, with extreme devotion but also a good dose of perspective, the end of a game means you go back to life unchanged from 90 minutes ago. No harm has been done. Ok, so I often lose my voice and get a small headache from so much screaming. But it is pretty much the extent of my damage.
Today I had a win, so maybe it is easier to speak. When I brought Little Girl C back home from her first defeat in the stadium a couple of weeks back, she no doubt wondered about the why of all this. I smiled and explained that we can’t always win in life, but we had a good time at the game, we kept our faith, ate ice cream and cheered along. And the best of it? We had nothing to worry about, it was just a game. Don’t you wish more things in life were like that?