‘I won’t be as passionate as before’: how sports fans changed in lockdown | Sport

‘I’ve completely fallen out of love with the Premier League’

I’ve missed it much less than I thought I would. Initially, I really missed the cadence of the Saturday afternoon – the results, the analysis and the narrative that went with it. As time went on, I missed it a lot less and realised that trying to keep up was tiring. I’ll be a lot more selective about what I watch when it returns. I’ve completely fallen out of love with the Premier League and its feelings of self-importance. I couldn’t care whether the league comes back or not given that people are dying from a pandemic. This has been an overdue awakening for how important football really is. Neil Tween, 36

‘I’m definitely missing the distraction’

What have I missed most was the chance for my ailing 90-year-old grandfather to see Liverpool lift the league trophy one last time. Sadly, he caught coronavirus in his care home and died in April. You’ll Never Walk Alone was played at his funeral. With two deaths in the family, we’ve had other things on our minds, but I’m definitely missing the distraction. Matt Dickinson, 31

‘I will watch sport when it returns, but more sparingly’

I have not missed it nearly as much as I thought I would, especially the hype and endless coverage about very little. So much of it is exhausting and uninteresting. Sport has become a mass distraction from the properly important things, designed to relieve us of as much money as possible. I’ve not missed the shouty marketing, the obscene amounts of cash, the racism, intolerance, tribalism. I do miss the skill from sportspeople at the top of their game and will watch when it returns, but more sparingly. Stephen Price, 58

‘I’ve been editing Wikipedia pages of football seasons’

I’ve missed it a lot. Late at night, I have been editing Wikipedia pages of seasons gone by – I’m lots of fun at parties. I’m a Liverpool season ticket holder, but have even found myself watching videos from Middlesbrough’s Uefa Cup run in 2005-06. I go to Liverpool games with my dad and it is the only thing we have in common. I had threatened to hug him and anyone else who wanted one (I’m not usually a hugger) when we saw them win the league, but that’s not going to happen now. Dave, 31

‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’

I’m a QPR fan and I miss the season-ticket holders I’ve gotten to know over the last decades. I miss buying a new pin-badge from the lady in the pub on Uxbridge Road and letting linesmen know exactly how I feel about their eyesight. The absence of sport has made me realise how much I love it and how invested I am in the human stories it creates. Triumph, disaster, glory and failure are all such vivid aspects of the human condition – extremes of emotion that echo through communities. Tom McFarland, 31

‘I have spent my time on more important things’

I haven’t missed it as much as I expected. I have spent my time on more important things, such as my daughter! When sport returns, I don’t think I will be as passionate as before – but, who knows, this is football and its magic may charm me again instantly. Mert Ezic, 38

‘It’s good to know I can get by without it’

I was concerned at the prospect of months without the distraction, but soon found other ways of passing the time. I picked up my guitar for the first time in years, made some ropey attempts at home curing and started writing. It’s good to know I can get by without sport. Tom Hurles, 40

‘I miss the routine of going to games with my family’

I have been going to Wolves games for 50 years and I miss that routine terribly: the weekly pre-game analysis with my dad and godsons about our chances and tactics – as if our decisions will have a critical outcome on the game. The tension going up on the train, the pre-game pint and pork scratchings, the frantic texts on finding out the team, the game itself and the post-match analysis during the two-hour journey home. It’s brilliant. Lockdown has taught me the importance of deep relationships with family, friends, and … Wolverhampton Wanderers. Gary Fisher, 60

Wolves fans outside Molineux before the match against Liverpool in January 2020.

Wolves fans outside Molineux before the match against Liverpool in January 2020. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images via Reuters

‘Sport is great entertainment, but that is all it is’

The highs and lows of sport are perfectly captured at this time of year: the end-of-season drama, trophies, finals and play-offs. However, I have enjoyed a different rhythm of life and being less of a slave to the TV and radio. The focus of the last two months has been on the health crisis and NHS response, which has given me a wider focus on things that really matter. Sport is great entertainment and drama, but that’s all it is. Gareth Clark, 52

‘I’ll be getting worked up as soon as the first whistle goes’

Peep Peep Peep! Premier League referee Michael Oliver blows his whistle.

Peep Peep Peep! Michael Oliver blows his whistle. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images/Reuters

It’s all very well talking about perspective, but you can’t spend the rest of your life not getting worked up about anything ever again, can you? As soon as the first whistle goes I’ll probably be getting worked up about the ref. That said, the idea of Premier League games behind closed doors seems a bit farcical to me. Most of the fun is going to the ground and informing the opposing fans that your town is in fact superior in both footballing and cultural stature. Ed Evans, 40

‘Without sport on, you’re left with the brutal realities of the real world’

The worst thing is not having anything to discuss with friends. It is perfect for anything from a casual chat to a fiery debate, safe in the knowledge it isn’t the end of the world if you’re wrong. Without sport, you are often left with the brutal realities of the real world. Arguing over the Premier League is more fun than Brexit or Covid-19. Duncan Brown, 27

‘I was wasting my time’

I used to watch football every weekend, but have not missed it at all. I have taken up new hobbies and am no longer prepared to timetable my weekends around matches. I was wasting time on something as meaningless as Coronation Street. Tim Gunn, 59

‘I will be more passionate when sport returns’

I used to wonder what life would be like without football. Now that I’ve experienced it, I never want to go through this again! I tend to organise my week around the fixture list. I will be more passionate when sport returns. It is very easy to take things for granted. The extreme highs and lows of being a football fan make life more colourful. I can’t wait until we get it back. Paul Bellamy, 46

‘Sport acts as a marker in my life’

I’ve missed sport immensely as the background music to my life. As someone with a personal struggle with mental health, it helps me to orientate my day, my week, my month. I suppose it acts as a marker and I’m indebted to sport for being a brilliant companion for so long now. John Barnes, 42

‘I miss the tension, the pain, the fear, the release’

My life is: 1) my wife 2) music 3) Manchester City. I fell in love with football in 1966 and miss it hugely. Some people have religion. My congregation dresses in sky blue and have forged a strong bond over the last five decades. I miss the tension, the pain, the elation, the fear, the disappointment and the release. The past three months have felt surreal, empty, like a limbo. “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell. Too bloody right! Andy Price, 62

‘I’m spending more time outside and hope that will continue’

I’m a pretty diehard sports fan but I am not missing it as much as I thought I would. We are spending more of our evenings outside, going for walks or playing in our yard or at the playground, rather than being glued to the couch watching games. I hope that continues. However, I know myself and I will be drawn back in. Alex Howe, 31

‘The absence of sport has allowed me to relish other pleasures’

I am surprised by how little I miss it. I’m relishing the relative peace of lockdown. I don’t miss the anxieties of constantly checking scores or the mood swings brought on by nothing more than a goal scored or missed. The break has allowed me to relish other pleasures, my enjoyment unspoilt by the false emotions sport can bring on. I will still watch, but I hopefully with the knowledge that sport should be fun, a relaxation, a diversion – but not the real world. Jim Priest, 70

‘They don’t give a stuff about fans’

I was a season-ticket holder at Old Trafford for nearly 40 years but I haven’t missed football at all. Their eagerness to complete the season without me confirms they don’t give a stuff about fans. The whole sport could do with a sabbatical to reflect. It’s the endless self-regard of Premier League clubs and their perception they are somehow indispensable to the course of human happiness. They are willing to risk players, take my tax money for their staff and then charge for cardboard cutouts of fans. My love of football was slowly dying, but this has finished it off. Chris Mills, 50s

You can’t beat a pint in a flimsy plastic cup.

You can’t beat a pint in a flimsy plastic cup. Photograph: Robin Aron/Getty

‘I’m desperate for an overpriced beer in a flimsy plastic cup’

I’ve missed the experience of watching live sport in crowds: the sound of rows of folded plastic seats batting against each other at Craven Cottage as the crowd stands up to watch a winger make a run into the box, the sight of floodlights on a pitch and even the smell of the grass. I’m desperate even to hold an overpriced beer in a flimsy plastic cup at half-time again. Rob Picheta, 27

‘Football is just a massive money-making exercise’

I have been a Spurs supporter for 50 years – my first game was Jimmy Greaves’ last appearance at White Hart Lane in February 1970 – but I have not missed football one bit. It is no longer a sport. It is a massive money-making exercise. The only reason there such determination to finish the season is because of TV money. I hope I no longer pay any attention to football when it returns. Although old habits die hard. Bobby Colvill, 57

‘Why did I waste so many hours watching sports?’

I have wondered many times in recent weeks why I wasted so many hours over the years watching these essentially meaningless sports. I am keen to do more things with my weekends! Of course, I say that now… Simon Macklin, 44

‘Sport’s absence has reaffirmed my love for it’

The lockdown strangely coincided with a commitment to myself to watch less sport. I thought that I should be filling my time with something much more productive. However, the lack of sport has actually had the opposite effect. If anything, its absence has reaffirmed my love for sport and made me appreciate the role it plays in the emotions and rhythms of my life. Jon Bartlett, 47

‘I miss watching my son play’

Football is a massive part of family life, especially watching my son Jamie’s U15 team play in the Sussex Premier league. That’s what I really miss. It’s a great club with good support and they have been promoted three times in a row, so watching them progress has been brilliant. It is more about the togetherness and belonging than the football itself. Allan Robinson, 52

‘We have to find a way of staging the Olympics in 2021’

I structure my year around sporting events. Wimbledon fortnight is redolent of childhood sunshine as I recall the gentle pick-pock and polite cheering on my mother’s radio as she prepared tea and I played in the garden. Sunday afternoons during F1 season were always a time to hunker down and whisper, so as not to spoil my dad’s enjoyment of the motor racing on TV. My life has been punctuated by the Olympics – I remember the excitement of watching the 1968 Games on TV. We have to find a way of staging the Tokyo Games in 2021. It would be a loss to humanity not to come together in some way to celebrate what humans can achieve in the sporting realm. Elizabeth Booth, 60

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