Those who truly live and breathe the beautiful game are lucky. They add a layer of emotional complexity to their lives. They allow themselves to feel intense emotion and excitement when participating in a soccer match – be it as a player or as a fan. For those lucky ones, soccer is a way of life… a passion.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion that evokes when you watch Maradona’s “Goal of the Century.”
This was scored only a few minutes after the infamous “Hand of God” goal. Feel the emotion of Maradona, the other players, the commentator (you don’t even need to speak Spanish to feel his intense excitement), the in-person fans, and the TV fans. Moments like this have the capacity to create such intense feelings of excitement, and the emotion is not limited to the few seconds after the goal. Those few seconds are the culmination and the peak of the emotion built up during the entire match, in expectation of a moment like this.
Of course, it is not all happiness in soccer.
This same moment for the opposing team and its fans has the potential to bring about a feeling of intense devastation. By immersing yourself in the emotion of soccer, you expose yourself to intense feelings, both good and bad. But this is reflective of life. To live life to its fullest, you expose yourself to intense emotions, both good and bad. Not to get romantic here, but love is like this too. By loving, you expose yourself to the potential of despair. It’s true, but do you stop loving then, just to avoid this possibility? No. It is the same with soccer, when you become a “football person”, you open yourself up to emotion.
When a true soccer fan watches a game, this is usually not a passive experience.
World Cup games are on a league of its own; they are the ultimate in terms of excitement and passion, but the emotions are present in any game fans are vested in. And fans are usually very vested in any game their team is playing. Football fans have it very clear that they are the ‘twelfth man,’ and they are as crucial to the success of the team as the players and the coaches. Be it the instructions they scream to the top of their longs to the team via the TV or in-person, their rituals prior to the game, their chants and songs during the game, or their banner waving, the fans’ actions have an effect on the outcome of the game. This is because the emotion from the fans is carried over to the players, it may intimidate the opposition and might even influence referee’s decisions. This would be why there is an element of home advantage.
The emotion that fans feel has both a scientific and a psychological explanation.
From a scientific point of view, fans are usually getting up and moving around a good part of the game, which pushes adrenaline and endorphins through their bodies. These hormones usually bring about a sense of happiness. From a psychological point of view, this feeling of being part of the success of the team, rather than just watching it, makes fans feel much more invested in the outcome of the game, thus elevating state of emotions.
It is quite beautiful when this results in a positive circle of emotions.
When fans are vested, and they help their teams win, they then feel more vested. Sometimes the circle is not a positive one, and this really detracts from the beauty of the game. The criticism that Messi has frequently received from Argentina fans comes to mind. He has scored more goals – by a lot - than anyone in the history of the Argentina national team, yet he has not managed to win a trophy for the Albiceleste, and this has resulted in bitterness among fans. This reaction creates a negative circle. The criticism gets to Messi, and this surely can have a negative impact on his performance. Emotion from the fans – positive or negative - is carried over to the players. Fortunately, negative emotions from fans are rare, and the usually encouraging fans are a huge reason why soccer is The Beautiful Game.
Emotion, excitement and passion are what make soccer The Beautiful Game.
When we think of passion in football, we usually think of fans watching professional players at play, but passion rules every soccer ambiance, from amateur to professional and everything in between. When you are playing in a local league game, or when you are watching your kiddo play in one, a scored goal may bring such intense emotions that you may just as well be watching Maradona live in the stadium when he scored the “Goal of the century.”
Soccer brings an opportunity for players and fans to let themselves go emotionally, and release frustrations of everyday life. It gives them joy and happiness, it makes them cry and angry, it makes them scream and jump, it makes them tired and frustrated, it gives them passion, it gives them emotion, it gives them excitement, and they will never stop loving the game. This is one of the many reasons why soccer is The Beautiful Game. If you are one of the lucky ones to experience soccer this way, well… enjoy it!
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