By: Natasha Archary
It wasn’t until Liverpool Football Club won the 2019/2020 English Premier League title earlier this month, that I realized how agonizing the regulations from COVID-19 have been on the world. Watching my boys in red take to the pitch at Manchester City’s empty Ethiad stadium to the “guard of honor”, was a stark reminder of just how much has changed.
What’s to miss about sports?
Everything. Packed to capacity stadiums. A cold beer with your buddies. Rocking up in full-team regalia. Chanting your team mantra. Hugging random strangers next to you after your team wins. The sound of vuvuzelas blaring in your ears. Handshakes amongst the players, in a show of camaraderie. Post-match press interviews, with a full room of journalists. Everything.
Happy though I undoubtedly am that the Premier League was restarted, it’s not the same. The players feel it too. Many feeding of the energy of the fans. But with their recorded roars simulating the atmosphere of these closed games, we can’t help but long for the day things go back to normal.
Sporting world woes
It’s no secret that sporting industries generate trillions a year. It’s one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. Proceeds from fixture ticket sales must rake in hefty profits for clubs in every sporting genre. Of course, we miss going to a live match, it’s one of our country’s favorite past-times. Rugby, cricket, soccer, tennis, racing, basketball, baseball, every sporting industry has been forced to press pause.
Whilst we’re grateful for the restarts in a few of the leagues and tournaments, it just feels completely unnatural to play them out in a void arena.
Taking it in our stride
We know what the odds are. We’ve listened intently to our President’s latest address, acknowledging that a quarter of a million people in South Africa have tested positive for COVID-19.
We also understand that the bigger picture is way more important than a football title. But it’s just been the longest 6 months and we’re all just counting on normalcy returning. Even if it means closed games. We’ll take it, because finally some respite. A distraction from all the negative news headlines and economic fears. A welcome change of topic, something that’s not as depressing as the curve that won’t flatten.
Well, except if you’re a Manchester United supporter, having a terrible league season and watching your rivals crowned Champions of England, Europe and the World.
One thing’s for sure, the banter amongst fans the world over has kept me semi-sane during the lockdown and sporting shutdown. Who doesn’t love taking the mickey out of an opposing side?
I don’t know when things will return to normal, nor whether my son will ever witness a live sporting event. I can only hope and pray that he will. I do know that I will never again take a sport for granted. Any sport. No matter how mundane I feel it is. May we always remember how sport fulfills us and may we ever be grateful for every sporting hero who is out there seeing out their role for us, the fans.