As soon as the final whistle blew, I gathered up my things and stormed out of the pub. My partner, who is not interested in football but is a Juventus fan by default of his family, had accompanied me to the game. He was obviously happy about the result, but treaded dangerous ground and he knew it. We sat down on the chairs outside the place, and he tried a cheerful nudge and to cheer me up with a light hearted joke, which fell flat. It was as if the ground had opened up beneath my feet and I was falling into a nothing. I tried to say something, but little that came out of my mouth made sense, and I started crying.
For some people, a loss for Tottenham against Juventus might not be quite this dramatic. Some might not even understand what I’m talking about. But for me, and I’m quite sure I was not the only one, that was a hard defeat to accept, and I’ve spent the past days processing our exodus from the Champions League. Friendly reminders that “this is football” and “it happens, you’ll come back next year!” helps very little in these moments of raw despair, and I instinctively shy away from anything even close to positive.
There is something special with a depression brought on by football. There is really not anything you can do to make it better or change the outcome. Your team will still be kicked out of the competition or having lost that prestigious derby game, which makes it even harder to accept. This team, that you have been following for months through the season and years, even decades, and you’ve gone through so much together
However, there are some ways that you can go about the depressive state that your football team leaves you in.
Resign to the pain. There really is no way around it but to acknowledge that it’s there, that pitch black hole inside you that you fear might suck your insides out of you. Just succumb to the feelings and let them carry you. It is okay to have feelings, to feel them and to feel them deeply. But I strongly advice to stay away from the internet during this stage, and especially all kinds of social media where mentions about the loss can pop up, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc … You do not want to be caught up in a ranting spree, as you are steeped in feelings, which in turn can lead you to say inappropriate things.
Try to oppress it all. Live in denial of it ever happening and pretend like whatever happened did not effect you one little bit. Fake it til you make it so to say. This one might make it easier for everyone around you, and you might even feel like it’s working really well to begin with. “Whatever, I don’t care about that stupid game!” – but as you’ll soon discover, living out your fandom like this will most probably leave you with a lot of unresolved feelings bottled up inside, and the probability of you exploding one day is very high.
Go for the middle way, which is my preferred method to use. This basically means splitting yourself in two, allowing yourself to let some feelings slip in, only to then close yourself back up when it becomes too much or too inconvenient (you can’t really have a melt down in class. I mean you can, but it’s better to give your classmates an evil stare rather than freak out when they talk about how badly they thought Tottenham did, otherwise they’re going to take you even less seriously). This method can lead to some confusing though, for the people around you as well as for yourself. Yo-yoing between emotional states of depression and “being fine” is not healthy.
These are just some guidelines in the rough jungle of sports related despair. Other methods recommended on the world wide web include exercising, eating and simply just talking about it, which I quite like too. However, my partner is not as happy when he for the fifth time has to hear about how unfair it was that we got kicked out, and how we should’ve had at least two penalties awarded to us.
THE FOOTBALL BLUES IS A REAL THING
All lightheartedness aside, Anthony Centore over at Thrive Works notes how getting the blues from your favourite sports team losing is way more common than people think, and how clients of his has come in describing symptoms that all tick the boxes of depression, over “just a game”!
It is interesting how sports can affect us in this strong way, and I think that non sports interested people discarding it as an exaggeration and “nothing” (with a snort), are too quick to judge the powerful impact a sports team can have on your mental health. The same goes for participating in sports, and although it is still extremely stigmatised with mental problems in the sports world, it starts opening up more and more. One of my teammates, Lindsay, wrote an excellent post on mental illness and exercise that I find worth mentioning, and I can recognise myself in a lot of the things that she mentions, through all of my years playing football up to this day. Go in and have a read!
HOW DID MY NIGHT END?
It took me a while to calm down but eventually we made it home, and in lack of anything better to do we put on a comedy show. Believe it or not but it actually helped to cry out of laughter instead of sorrow! This past week has only been grey clouds, I’ve stayed away from all social media going over the loss and how Tottenham is THE bad English team going out and avoided to talk to pretty much anyone I knew about the game. What turned it around was when they crushed Bournemouth 4-1 on the Sunday, and then I smiled halfheartedly when I saw that Manchester United flew out of the competition head first against Seville.
I anticipate to be over this loss sometime in the next … 3-6 months?