In a word . . . Sport

How it can bring us to places of such intense emotion is remarkable and miraculous

 

Ah, June. This has to be the best time of year in our part of the world, even when it is unseasonably cold. As it can be. Nothing compares to a clear, blue sky day in any part of Ireland from mid-May, through June.

Sure, such a clear, blue sky day at any time of the year is wonderful on this exquisitely beautiful island but at this time of year it is unequalled. Everything is fresh and young and blooming.

You do have to wonder of course why there are then only 30 days in June as opposed to miserable January with its mean-spirited 31 days of darkness and misery. That’s what the Romans did for us!

However if you are a Liverpool or Spurs fan you are probably feeling far from lyrical just now. You have probably had a sleepless night and you can’t get Spain out of your mind, anxiously wondering who will reign there tonight.

All your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind is already in Madrid, where the Uefa Champions League final will be played this evening. You will have no ease until it’s all over, then when you will levitate in purest ecstasy or be plunged into blackest grief. It is the latter you dread.

People laughed when the late great Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly remarked in 1981: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

Anyone who watched the two Champions League semi-finals last month can be under no doubt how important the seemingly impossible wins of Liverpool against Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur against Ajax of Amsterdam were for the respective fans of both English clubs.

The sheer physical ecstasy as recorded in YouTube clips posted online have to be seen. As someone who was never enamoured of soccer, my own reaction was “I’ll have some of that”.

Sport is astonishing. How it can bring us to places of such intense emotion, is remarkable and miraculous. Little else in life can do that. And in June.

That’s life, that’s what people say/You’re riding high in April/Shot down in May/But I know I’m gonna change that tune/When I’m back on top, back on top in June...”

Ah, June!

Sport, abbreviation of disport, ‘pastime or game’. From Anglo-French disport, Old French desport.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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