It's not easy liking football. It's not something that we can easily justify either; football is, when everything is taken into consideration, an ultimately inconsequential pursuit. Yes, we can turn a blind eye to football's futility and embrace it as a valuable outlet of escape from the 'real world', as if our lives are divided into what exists and what does not. But the myriad evils of football make it harder still to justify taking an interest, even if it is treated as a means of withdrawal from everyday life and all its problems; why subject ourselves to the misery of our teams' failures, the vitriol of opposition fans, the alleged corruption of football's ruling body? It appears, therefore, that not only is football an ultimately pointless pursuit, it is a masochistic one. If this is the case, then it is unquestionably the most popular form of masochism in the world. Football, as you may have noticed, is enjoyed by quite a number of people.
Almost all of these people fell in love, if such a romantic notion can be applied to this cruel game, with football in their childhood. This love is usually instilled by the preceding generation, though many pick it up even without any parental prompting. Only in the naive, innocent years of childhood does the culture of football appeal; you don't hear of people in their twenties suddenly embracing the sport after a lifetime of indifference. Those blessed with apathy to football can never appreciate the agonising life they have been spared. While we wallow in the depraved glory of the clubs we support, they bask in glorious ignorance. Imagine a life not dictated by some perverse desire to keep 'up-to-date' with the latest football news. That means no more hours dedicated to reading yet another piece on why England don't beat good football teams, no more hours spent checking your Twitter feed to see what transfers are brewing, and no more hours parked in front of a television watching football matches (yes, actually watching a game!). Think of the things you could have accomplished with all that lost time. You could have learned another language, you could have read hundreds of books, you could have mastered an instrument. But instead, we chose football and all of its accompanying ills.
It is the lull of a June without an international tournament* that provokes this post. Firstly because there is precious little else to write about due to the dearth of games. (Regardless of my numerous gripes, I can't help but love watching football matches.) But I write this post primarily because of the transfer season.
Of all the sheer rubbish rammed down our throats by the football media that we feel compelled to swallow, paralysed for fear of not being "in the know", transfer rumours must surely sit atop the pile of malignant banality. Fuelled by football agents and football journalists with agendas to further, they are presented to us, the gullible, needy fans, as tantalising morsels of vital information that we cannot do without. The reality, of course, is starkly different; everyone knows that a great deal of these rumours are entirely fabricated, or at least painted with a coat of spuriousness. Yet these rumours thrive; they are an inescapable part of a football fan's life, no matter how we try to ignore them. Media outlets dedicate hundreds of words to stories based on little more than unverified quotes, purported sightings of players at club grounds or incredible (in its most literal sense) claims by agents.
Dawn, I'm fed up. I don't want to be part of a footballing culture of hearsay and corruption any more. Still I know I'm not ready to sever ties with football for ever. How could I turn my back on the game of Puskás, of Cruyff, of Laudrup? Football has us by the scruff of the neck and there's nothing we can do about it. I have no choice but to cast aside my complaints and submit to football, the omnipotent force for good and evil. It will always maintain a stranglehold on my life, no matter what grieveances I have. Acquiscence is the easiest way out. Liking football isn't easy, but I can't imagine life without it.
*The Copa América doesn't start until July. And yes, I'm ignoring this.