England haven’t won a tournament, again. A concept we have become more than accustomed to dealing with. It still hurts a little/a lot/unbearably (delete as appropriate) and leaves a haunting feeling of, ‘what if?’ drifting through our idle thoughts for the remainder of the summer, but by now we all have our various coping mechanisms hardwired in. Some though, conversely, come to life at the merest sniff of an England failure, preying on people’s misery. I’m talking about the self-titled ‘realists’, the ‘I-told-you-so-ers’.
If you want your team to do well in the face of adversity, football snobs will inevitably label you an imbecile – an unreasonable and unpleasant supposition. Unfortunately, they are loud and assertive, and generally armed with facts, statistics and logic to back up their conceited taunting. But that still doesn’t mean you have to listen.
Cynical football fans paint hope as a negative; an evil that distorts reality. They readily accuse fans who were hoping for better as delusional. It’s a wholly unsavoury way of attacking people they see as inferior to themselves. Yes, delusional behaviour is largely ignorant, and yes, hope isn’t necessarily aligned with truth, but in the context of football – an entertainment business, as it now exists – does it really do any actual harm to enjoy getting lost in the moment? Does the Universe irrevocably collapse if you allow yourself to be swept along by the euphoria of exultant shared joy?
When you’re feeling great, hope is the catalyst to better things. When you’re feeling terrible, it offers you a crumb of comfort. It’s emotions like Hope and Love that stimulate and inspires us to act. Reason and rationale have their place in the grander scheme of things, but in relation to football they will have us seated, contemplating defeat and expecting very little, if not nothing: an altogether unhealthy way to approach things.
Whether anyone genuinely believed England had a chance of competing in these Euros (or in any major tournament), is irrelevant in many ways. It still doesn’t make it clear why it becomes necessary, or fair, to piss on anyone else’s chips. As individuals we are all free to create our own realities, as long as we are sincerely considerate of the effects it may have on others. I haven’t been on Wikipedia to check this out, but I’m quite confident that very few people (if any) have suffered unbearable hardship from an over-exposure to misguided enthusiasm.
Some people’s enjoyment of football is based largely around the ridiculing of others, which I think is really sad (in both senses of the word). There’s also a lot of people who want to “own” football, well listen up, you can’t have it. Not my bit anyway.
If you’re not enjoying football, hoping beyond hope and all expectation, that your veteran striker might still have that one big performance left in his creaking knees; or that your questionable second keeper might actually be able to keep out the league’s top scorers; or your team can reverse the four goal deficit on the last day of the season and avoid relegation; or that your national team can forget all that’s gone before and finally win a damned penalty shoot out, then in my eyes you’re the ones doing it all wrong – not those that have the audacity to dream.