They say a sense of detachment can be a good thing. Well, we all better get used to it. Armageddon isolation is coming. The contagion of sport has been be kicked into touch just as we were getting into the “peak” of its giddy virus. There’s no vaccine to make us feel better either.
Don’t pretend to be stoical although we can all say the right things at first to kid ourselves. The anger is coming. The grieving period will be difficult. There’s always sofa football, front room putting or back garden penalties. Or FIFA 20 with squad updates on who’s got COVID. Now that viral debate about too much sports talk in the office will not be a thing. There won’t be an office.
What happens when the thing you most care for – after (or before?) loved ones – gets ripped from the grasp. No cumulative build-up just a bang. There’s not even a chance to get used to Season Affective Disorder when a favourite sport goes into hibernation. From an all-out summer feast, we now have National League games that shouldn’t have played and tumbleweed rolling, toilet roll going and virtually no professional sportsmen and sportswomen in sight. Well, there’s always the Tokyo Olympics. Well done, Shinzo Abe.
This is a new world and, as creatures of habit, not an easy one to adapt to. What is there to fall back on apart from humour and ways of dealing with it. Sport will rise again we are told, but if there is to a phoenix from the ashes, then where do we burn our passions in the meantime?
Lionel Messi has given us the way forward now: “Now is the time to be responsible and stay at home. These are complicated days for everyone.” It has to be like this. If Messi sounds like a useful temporary politician then Jurgen Klopp is the Pied Piper for a sporting community in selfish mourning: “If it’s a choice between football and the good of the wider society, it’s no contest. Really, it isn’t.” Klopp is a man who genuinely finds the right words for the wrong situation 99 times out of 100.
At a rip-roaring Anfield on Wednesday, Atletico’s first goal literally knocked the stuffing out of the current European champions. The German noted that Liverpool suddenly lost the legs, the momentum and the rhythm of the match. Everything became harder and more forced.
That’s the way it is going to be. An exit without the Brexit-style build-up. Waking up to sport every morning without that spring in your step, that unusual feeling of giddy excitement and dread, is to be replaced by community empathy? It’s not sexy. Hey, maybe without the tribalism we can be nice to each other.
Three or four months might seem like an eternity lost in cyberspace where no one can hear you scream.
In actual fact, it may be just enough time to work out another way to do things. It’s rubbish though.