With the World Cup marching on to it's conclusion, football has been on my mind quite a lot lately. It's the single biggest sporting event in the world, so no big surprises there that I would be one of the legion of fans. At surface level is a fun sport, and a simple one, but lately I've been thinking about it's inner appeal.
When you watch football, and particularly at this stage of the World Cup, you are faced with athletes of impeccable physical condition, an uncanny drive and purpose, doing feats that most of us can only dream of ever doing. How much of the entertainment that comes from watching sport is part of wish fulfillment? Certainly as we are younger, but what part of that carries on as we grow older? At this point in my life, I know pretty well that I am never going to be a professional athlete, I find myself watching more football than I ever did before, more than I did when I actually played football.
(Don't get me wrong, there are many fans that just want to watch a sport because of ties to national or local teams, I would even wager a great portion)
While it's true that I hold some teams close to my heart, I am more interested in entertainment than in the winning of championships or accolades. I would watch good football regardless of who was playing. I think part of me likes watching football because of how inspirational it can be. There's nothing quite like the happiness of a team winning a hard fought match, a primal joy that exudes from players. Just as how there's nothing quite like a team heading home in defeat, only knowing that in due time they might have to do it again.
In part, I think football players are modern day gladiators, fighting for honor and the entertainment of spectators and they act as ambassadors of their lands to the rest of the world. Sure, the battles are not quite as deadly as they used to be in Roman times, but their professional careers are probably just as long.
I think there's quite a lot of material to extract from here, story wise, about the struggle of football (or any other sport) players, though there doesn't seem to be a big interest in sport stories in fiction, is there? People would rather read/watch a true inspirational story (and understandably so, really) than something completely made up.