Cold turkey is the hardest and the harshest way for a junkie to give up on a substance that he’s addicted to. It requires an abrupt end for one’s habit on the contrary of the gradual reduction or using replacement medication. The results of cold turkey treatment may vary, but in most cases, a junkie will suffer tremendous stress and anxiety while being deprived of something he’s really longing for.
Armchair football fans are junkies: football is their drugs. The Euro 2012’s curtain call in Kiev last Sunday means that, after more than 3 weeks of green field fiesta, they had to adapt to ordinary nights without football. There was some kind of excitement when you’re going back from workplace knowing that your loved ones were not the only things awaited home, but also a game of football, served directly in your living room for consecutive days. No more stuff like that, bid adieu to the carnival.
Football fans tend to be cranky after they get cold-turkeyed and I suffered the first symptom after the end of the quarterfinals phase. There was two-day interval between the final quarterfinal match and the first semifinal game: the pain I had to endure was excruciating. Suddenly you had nothing to wait for and you just went straight to bed when it’s past midnight. There’s no pre-match build-up, that sheer excitement when you wait for the line-up and the kickoff, the thrill of knowing that you’re going to be entertained by 90 minutes of football. Having been denied of all that, I remember being out of mood that night and ended up ranting on everything I could throw my mild tantrum at.
The need for football was fulfilled for two days of penultimate matches, then it took a rest for another 48 hours before the final kickoff was taken. When Iker Casillas lifted the Henri Delauney trophy that was met with rousing cheers from his teammates and countrymen, football junkies were hit with a reality check that the football season had ended until another one starts.
Non-football lovers might find this as a form of exaggeration but the truth is, most armchair football fans suffer extreme hollowness in between two football seasons. It’s the time when, because there’s no games to watch on Saturday night, they finally hang around with their partners and friends, trying to keep themselves occupied with something worth doing. That is exactly what I’m going to do this weekend: watching “The Amazing Spider-man,” perhaps, without the need to worry about the ongoing matches. There will be no clicking the refresh button on livescore.com in between dinner and cocktails, no calling the night off at 10 to catch the late kickoff, and maybe you can get up early the following dawn to do the Sunday morning exercise.
Why is one so dedicated and captivated by football games on TV while he may not be interested in attending a local football match in stadium nearby? Maybe because a certain class of football enthusiasts who don’t regularly go to stadia find the highly marketed European football on TV as a form of escape from daily routines. And on the seventh day, the football-loving workers lay down their tools and opt to be swayed by the beautiful game.
I’m grateful that I don’t have to be involved in betting to enjoy a football game, but for those who participate in such gambling activity, it doubles the excitement. In exchange for some psychological satisfaction, you also get a tangible prize; money. In terms of sports entertainment, watching a betting-fueled football game must be on the top. What is not to like?
The transcendence, euphoria and spiritual communion provided by a televised football game are hallucinating, something similar to the drug soma in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, “Brave New World.” The football junkies need the games, it might be the one of the few forms of entertainment they can afford. You take it away and they will be cranky. You feed it to their mouths and they will be as glued to their chairs peacefully, like a kid enjoying cotton candy.
European football seasons will not start until another month and the craving armchair fans have to get themselves busy with other things for a while. When the first football match of the season kicks off in August, that’s when we get our favorite recreational drug back. Football is the opium of the people.