Following our sporting dream the perfect escape from reality
Normally sober and sane folk can get carried away when it comes to their chosen team
Joyous Cork fans celebrate a score during the county’s Munster senior hurling semi-final victory over Waterford at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Sport can be a beautiful thing sometimes. Anyone who has a passion for sport knows what it’s like to feel the magic of your team winning, the heartache when your team loses and all the frustrations and joy that come with it.
What else in the world can make you angry at 26 individuals chasing a ball around a large green area?
The thing is, sport can be our escape from reality. Everything that is unfair and wrong with our lives, we use sport as a means to get away from. Fans begin to lose themselves. They do things that are viewed as sinful or deviant in our society.
In Ireland, no matter what is going on within the country, from economic despair to the collapse of small towns, one thing is for sure, we as a nation always have sport. And while that can be a good thing, it can also create unrealistic expectations, or we create a world just for us, somewhere only we know. Stadia and even rural are fields can, in a way, become temples where we are saved from various life problems.
I always find it funny when I attend matches, and I see people at the games who regularly carry themselves in such a respectable manner. Myself included, I can see these people, who normally would have behave impeccably, absolutely forget themselves and just go mad? I always wondered why.
Turns out, it’s the same reason I do. Sometimes life is not fair, and sometimes I am upset, mad or frustrated. But one thing I know for sure, a victory for Cork City, Barcelona or Cork GAA and all of a sudden, my troubles disappear.
But sport is real, and the inevitable will happen. You will get teams who are better than yours. You will get players who have it all. They are possibly wealthy, good-looking and normally very talented. They crush all your dreams because sport should be for the little guy, it should be for the tryers and the hard workers. But just like life, sometimes that’s not enough.
As a result, fans can go a few ways. They can accept the consequences, what will be will be. Other fans can find scapegoats. One day it’s a bad referee, the next day it could be something as dumb as the pitch being off.
Sometimes, you can’t bring yourself to reality and just accept you were not good enough on the day. Other fans, well, they find sanctuary in extremism. They go ballistic when it’s not their day and in this bubble or alternate universe, act in a way that is unjustifiable or just plain wrong.
Sport can also create false identities for players. We always want to root for the smallest guy on the pitch and praise them when they do something. We call for protection for the little player because we view them as delicate, one of our own.
But, when the bigger, better-looking and sometimes more talented player is harmed, we normally fob it off because they are big enough and old enough, they should be able to take care of themselves.
The identity we create for players is very often the polar opposite of the truth. We find players who may play on the edge or go that step too far, and he could be called every word known to man. If said players are seen doing something good, it has to be publicity, or it has to be fake news. We simply can’t handle the fact that someone could be . . . perfect.
Sport is not fair, nobody deserves anything from it.
Every Sunday on American sport shows you hear the same cliché being regurgitated – “on any given Sunday” an underdog can pull it out of the bag. History has been kind sometimes to the underdog, and sometimes the underdog emerges victorious. But winning a battle doesn’t end the war. The war is normally won by the best army.
Sometimes, Cork women footballers don’t always win, Mayo footballers don’t always win, and neither does any team or athlete win on such a consistent basis.
Even Dublin were toppled at some stage and will be in the future. And that is life. The top dog is not the top dog for long. Some person is always smarter, better-looking and more talented. Life is not like the movies.
It just isn’t fair. And as we struggle to escape life and all of the attendant unfairness and garbage that we deal with on a daily basis, fantasy is important. It would be amazing if reality would just stop messing up our . . . alternate reality.