Football, the Beautiful Game: Why?
Sport is something pretty awesome, and as the great man Sachin Tendulkar recently reminded us, it's pretty necessary as well. The good thing about it is, there are options aplenty. If you hit the hamburger menu at the top edge of the Sportskeeda homepage, it drops down a list of 15 sports right there, with the 16th option being 'more'. Nice.
But amidst this plethora of sports, there's just the one that pops up when you Google, 'The Beautiful Game'. Football. After years of following this sport, I might just have an idea why that's a pretty apt title for this game. Here goes:
The power to seek out a smile amidst trying times
There’s a picture that pops up on the internet during this time of the year that’s deeply beautiful and which has made its way to my PC wallpaper.
It is well documented how harrowing times of war are. You need something truly powerful to help the men at war escape the darkness and find a moment of joy. The Christmas of 1914 is one such day, when the humans emerged from these warriors, when German and English troops rebelled against the rebellion and called a ceasefire to enjoy a game of football.
Not a worry in the world and the smiles on these faces depict a moment in time that is simply... beautiful.
The ability to bring global giants to their knees
If you give yourself to the game, this game has got the power to give you everything: fame, wealth, power you name it. Kids will sing your name, wear your style, and dance your dance. But then there's a flipside.
Major defeats take a toll on you quite unlike anything else. Grown men have been brought down to tears, and messiahs have broken down to the point of premature retirement.
Captains, Leaders, Legends, those who put on the strongest exterior and haven't winced before, while breaking Bridges - sorry, couldn't resist that - had no clue how to say goodbye to the game that gave them so much. Phil Neville is still figuring out what to do as he pretends to be a pundit. Jokes aside, footballers have a special bond with the football that I don't think can be matched.
The ability to send the sanest men into absolute hysteria
Now to include Eric Cantona in a list of the sanest men isn't the sanest thing to do, is it? But you can definitely expect sound decision-making from someone trusted with the Man United armband. No? No? No. A red card at Selhurst Park topped with a bucketload of swears aimed his way saw the Frenchman unleash a wicked kick at a fan! Conor McGregor would've been proud of that one.
The night of 9th July, 2006 - 110 minutes into a gripping World Cup final. There's always trash talk on a football field, but this one by Marco Materazzi sparked a reaction nobody could imagine. Zinedine Zidane's last game and he executes the most talked about header of his entire career. Drop bang at the Italian's chest. Cue bedlam.
The power to transition strangers into best-friends-forever
And vice-versa. Matchdays in college usually saw a number of us wear our club’s colours. You’re passing through your canteen and hey, your good buddy is coming from the other end. But wait a second, is that the Chelsea Blue he’s wearing today? Guess you’ll need just the one finger to greet him today, rather than the high-five. On the other hand, the stranger in red and white gets a knowing nod and a bonus fist bump in some cases.
And then there’s the stadium experience. There’s an expansive range of emotions you go through during a game of football. From hurling expletives at the linesman, chanting the chants until your vocal chords give in, head in hands when the opposition takes the lead, to hands up and away when you level the score. And then, as I witnessed in a recent Mumbai City game, if you score the winner in the dying stages - there’s pandemonium. Amidst that, the fellow-supporter beside you is vulnerable to a hug that’s likely to leave your significant-other pretty envious. New best bud unlocked right there.
The power to provide the purest form of happiness
Don’t ask me why 11 guys halfway across the globe affect my day as much as they do. And pardon me for wearing my jersey to social gatherings. Didn’t realise black and pink don’t go with my olive green trousers! And dad I agree, the union budget is vital and affects one and all closer back home. But when Arsenal’s financial records reveal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke donating money to Stan Kroenke, that’s when I’m truly affected.
My point here is that rationale takes a backseat when fandom finds its way to the steering wheel. And it’s all worthwhile at the end of the day, because there truly is no happiness greater than that late, late winner that sends your club into raptures, opponents to their knees, and you onto cloud nine.
All in all, this is a game that brings out fire, yet rarely loses its grace. It'll take a lot out of you, but it's bound to give you more. It may frustrate the daylights out of you, yet the only cure would be the ball back with your feet. The Beautiful Game of football.