Coronavirus Provides Us a with a Reality check
After Mikel Arteta was reported to have tested positive to COVID-19 and the Premier League, along with almost all footballing activities, subsequently suspended, this is a moment for us as fans to collectively reflect on our relationship to the club and the sport in general.
First of all, organized football is entertainment. It doesn’t go beyond that. Don’t let any of the hype and quotes deceive you. It is a product that is packaged and produced for your consumption. Whatever you choose to do with that product is your decision. If you decide to fall in love with a football club and spend your money buying their merchandise, that’s a choice. If you decide to devote all your life towards it, that’s a choice, too.
But we often forget that these relationships we have and share with the club have a human end on the other side. The players feel the same way you feel as a human being. They have families, friends, favourite uncles and long-distance cousins. They go through situations, have issues, lose their loved ones and generally suffer as much as the next person. Do not let the pile of money they receive blind you from that fact. These guys are basically living the same life that you do. They might be more privileged and more famous but these benefits come with their own downsides, too.
Outside of the field, these guys might drive a flashy Benz but they probably just moved into a new country, don’t speak the language, don’t have any friends and live an extremely lonely life. No amount of money can take away that feeling. Or at other times they are soon-to-be fathers, anxious as ants, waiting for an update from the hospital. Like Ozil and Kolasinac, they can be subjected to life-threatening and traumatic situations along with their families. Or it could be that they just lost a pet. They will also be in isolation, and have children and parents, sometimes in other countries, that are as much in danger from the coronavirus as our parents are.
Whatever it is, they are human beings just like us, not race horses.
As much as emotion and competitive rivalry may exist, football is meant to be a unifier and the people who bring us that unification are as fragile as we are. Abuse and toxic behaviour towards them are not okay.
We will all do well to remember that if and when this virus is beaten and the season resumes.