It’s only a game.

It’s not real life.

Why are you so sad?

But it’s more than a game. And it is real life.

Emotions burn high around football matches. Like a match, like a flame, they burn bright and hot, but ultimately burn themselves out. The joy is sweet and rolls around inside you, sometimes for mere hours, sometimes for days, but it always rolls itself out, as soon as the next game kicks off. The sadness swells in you, closing your mouth, forcing you to relive the worst moments in your head, forcing you to kick out at innocent beer cans that lay in the street, but as soon as the next game kicks off it’s gone. There’s always next week. Except next week’s an international break.

People love to invest odd things with meaning. Trees, jumpers, pants, gods, books. Games. We love to pretend these things have any bearing on our mood. What is it? Feeling part of something? We are nothing as a species without motivation. Does football give those of us who follow it just that? Motivation? A reason? Something to invest the swirling richness of our emotions into? Feeling connected to tens of thousands of others with disappointment as an Ag├╝ero header slams against the post is intoxicating. Your voice is one of thousands, and is all of thousands. It’s addictive, the up of winning a corner in the first minute. The down of conceding a staggeringly predictable goal. It provides some emotional instability into what is an otherwise emotionally stable life.

Life is a series of ups and downs writ large across a number of years. Football is that distilled into 90 minutes. Each match is like an accelerated life. Some are boring and uneventful. Some are rollercoaster rides from beginning to end. Some are sad. Some are happy. Each is unique, and specific to the circumstances in which it takes place. And many have the ability to touch many thousands of others.

Also it’s bloody fun isn’t it.

Overall, I recommend getting sad when your football team loses. Just not for too long. After all, there’s always next week. Or next season.