A word that’s been thrown around a lot in my life recently is “context”. I’m trying to put events in their correct context, or others are trying to understand my emotions and give them some context.
There are times over the last year or so where the regular rules have been thrown out the window and I’ve been working on pure emotion, occasionally successfully and other time not so much.
I thought I was prepared for mums passing, we all knew it was coming, but all this time later I’m still working through the grief. There have been moments in the last year that I’ve been in some dark places, others when it was about pure unadulterated joy.
It’s strange when those moments of joy have come, especially as they often seem to be dependent on factors outside my control.
I’m talking about sport, the Sounders, In-ger-land, Team GB, Coventry City and the Olympics.
For sport to be meaningful it requires us to accept that a mere game has significance. If we are realistic it matters not that England beat Mexico 3-1 tonight in their final home game before the World Cup, and I’ll admit that in the big scheme of things to most people it does not matter.
But to me it does, I can’t dismiss the inner child that makes this game played by grown men to mean something significant. I agree with the cynics that no one is worth the $150000 per week some people are paid for kicking a ball around, but the market disagrees with the realists in me and the cynic in others.
The players may be over-paid men who blow their money on Bentleys and are given an importance and gravitas way out of proportion to their contribution to society. They are held up as role models, a role they are totally unqualified for.
There are a couple of things that we require to enjoy sports, professional sports at the highest level we are talking about here.
You must suspend that cynic and allow the innocence or childishness to take over and give 22 men kicking a ball around significance way beyond what’s reasonable.
I think this is one reason why events like Hillsboro, Heisel and the Bradford fire are so tragic and they leave such a mark on us. It’s not just the death, its that death came to so many while pursuing something that required this childishness to enjoy fully.
The second part is the community that grows up around these events. It gives us a sense of belonging. On game day there are almost 36,000 people in Quest Field wearing “Rave Green” and screaming for Seattle. For those few precious hours we are in this together, we live and die with the fortunes of 11 professional athletes we’ve paid good money to watch.
There have been moments in the last year where I was so detached by a combination of grief and pressure that little moved me. Thinking of my mother reduces me to tears at moments. The images of my father in a hospital bed this week bring out the same intense emotions.
I’m not minimising what’s gone on, the grief is very real, but there are moments inside the grief and mourning where the normal rules are suspended. Fulham taking out Juventus is one of those moments. Seattle clinching playoff football in style in Columbus was another.
Sport, and that’s sport that I feel emotionally invested in, allows me to suspend the dark places and revert back to innocence. When it does it feels so good move on, even if it’s just for a brief time and enjoy the moment.
I can’t put these moments into context because they just don’t fit. And I feel good about that.