As a man sits down at the World Cup Final he notices the seat next to him is empty.
“Who would ever miss the World Cup final?” he asks the man two seats away.
“That was my wife’s seat,” the man replies. “We have been to the last five World Cup finals together, but sadly she passed away.”
“That’s terrible, but couldn’t you get another member of the family or a friend to come with you?”
“No…they are all at the funeral.”
A bit over the top?
Maybe… but only just a little bit.
Many people take their sports far too seriously, and I know from personal experience that getting too involved supporting any team can screw-up both your outlook on life and your behaviour.
I’m an Arsenal supporter. I used to be a die hard fan, but now I’m just a supporter.
It wasn’t quite as bad as Nick Hornby’s autobiographical account in Fever Pitch where his happiness was totally dependant on how the Gunners performed, but it was pretty close.
When things got tough, I got angry; and when things went wrong on the pitch, I could get depressed for a day or two. Not good.
One reason I’m mentioning this now is that this column comes out one week into the World Cup and if you aren’t too attached to any team yet this might be a good time to look at how watching the games affects you.
I know my values and priorities went out the window when I got too involved in how my team performed, and I also know how easy it is to latch onto a new team to support during a tournament.
Another reason I decided to talk about the effect of watching lots of football is that a friend of mine who works in a doctor’s surgery tells me the emergency services over here in England have been put on alert during the World Cup.
At first I thought that was because they were expecting a bit of hooligan behaviour in the pubs and in the streets after the games but that isn’t the case.
No, my friend says the ambulance crews and emergency room staffs are expecting an increase in wife beating and other domestic violence during the tournament because that’s what has always happened in the past.
Again; not good.
And even if you couldn’t care less about the football it would still be a good idea to recognise that many normally sane people do, so their behaviour may be slightly altered during the next few weeks.
When a man arrives at the gates of heaven St. Peter says: “Before I can let you enter I must ask you what you have done in your life that was particularly good.”
The man racks his brains for a few minutes but can’t come up with anything.
“Well, have you done anything particularly brave?”
“Yes, I have,” replies the man proudly.
“I was refereeing a football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield.
The score was 0-0 and there was only one minute to go in the second half when I awarded a penalty against Liverpool at the Kop end.”
“Yes,” responded St. Peter, “I agree that was a true act of bravery. When did this take place?”
“About three minutes ago.”