Passion in times of pandemic: not even a little soccer

Why the willingness to watch sports dwindles even when there is suddenly time for it. Other things are more important.

Yoga training session at TSG Hoffenheim Photo: TSG Hoffenheim/imago/

I have a lot of time. I have since March. I’ve isolated myself to a large extent. I’d have plenty of time to watch soccer or play tennis or darts. But I feel like it less and less. I didn’t see Tuesday’s game. Apparently I missed something, I’m told. It doesn’t feel like it.

I see the messages popping up about who has now all been infected with Covid-19 again. Half the Ukrainian national team, aha. All these months we haven’t seen a single footballer wearing a mask. This was never discussed in any great detail. It was all about pretending that nothing was going on outside.

I hear the phrases. They mean something else, they talk about other things. They say: We have to remain realistic. They say: I bear the responsibility. They say: Role model function. I read the interview with İlkay Gundogan. He talks about his Covid disease. He says he didn’t take it so seriously originally; but now he knows it’s very serious. He says he realized that, especially after his father called him and cried. Now he’s playing again as if nothing had happened.

I don’t see any professional athletes wearing masks. It’s absurd, they tell me, not practical. There are entire research institutes that study the trajectory of newly developed balls; there are armies of physicians who coordinate training and stress control in order to squeeze a little more performance out of the bodies. There are even companies that have developed masks to artificially induce respiratory distress. This, they say, is a modern way to train the respiratory muscles. But it is not possible to design masks that do not slip during sprinting. There is a loss of performance during extreme exertion, they say.

Yoga and life expectancy

I have learned: Self-strangulation is okay. As long as it serves the cause. The thing that counts is three points at the end. Everything is to be subordinated to that.

Gundogan was sick with Covid. Now he’s playing again as if nothing had happened.

I watch sports and do yoga. I’ve been sitting a lot lately, and when I’m not sitting, I’m lying down. I do sports for my back muscles. I keep myself healthy while watching people get knackered. I read articles about the life expectancy of competitive athletes. The study is called "Young Dies Whom the Gods Love?". Lutz Thieme wrote it. In an interview with brand eins, he says: "Every competitive athlete knows and feels that he or she is pushing the limits of what can be called healthy – there’s no other way to keep up internationally."

I don’t want to compete internationally. Why should I identify with people who want to compete internationally? I see the sport out there trying so desperately to maintain an illusion of normalcy. How it tries to repress. How it feigns a carefree attitude, how it celebrates the unconditional will to perform. This is no longer a game, there is nothing easy about it. I take no pleasure in watching people endanger themselves for me. Not even if they get a lot of money for it. Maybe I am naive. I’ve had time to think since March, and I’m sure of one thing: naive is better than cynical.

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