Do you remember sport? It used to quite a big deal back in the pre-pandemic days, if I remember well.
There was that Roger bloke who made bit of a racket for a decade or two and Manchester whatchamacallit… I think there were two of them, weren’t there?
So many high priests. Some canonized, like the Messi and the Cristiano, who fired balls into nets using only their feet and their heads. Miracles, we cried. They attracted millions to their weekend services. No-one wore masks, but everyone wore the swoosh. We were all ticked.
Aaah yes sport… it’s all coming back now. An odd kind of religion. On the one hand, graceful and athletic, and on the other, an untidy mess of grunting, sweating, sinewy bodies in garish colors, all running, leaping, diving, hitting, chasing, falling over, kicking, catching and throwing balls of all sizes.
It’s difficult to watch now. All those men and women falling over each in rapture. The lack of social distancing was appalling. What were they thinking of? Not to mention the thousands crammed into the stadiums like sardines in a can.
At the time, we couldn’t live without it. For many, the weekend was a 48-hour non-stop service. We were poly-worshippers then. With the flick of a finger we could skip between the Church of the Burning Tyres, the Church of the Catgut, the Church of the Cowhide Ball, the Church of the Turning Spokes and The Church of the Flashing Willow.
Then the pandemic came. What a game changer. It was a straight forfeit. Death is the final victor. Step aside Maradona. Meet the real ‘Hand of God’.
The media-bloated demi-gods have grown thinner and thinner in absence until they have all but disappeared. A few have tried to stay relevant, but off the turf, we soon realized they pick their noses just like the rest of us (or at least did so before the pandemic).
The Olympics, the Jubilee of sport, where we attempt to swim faster than fish, run faster than gazelles and leap higher than kangaroos also fizzled into oblivion. Gone with little more than a hop, skip and a whimper.
The pandemic has had that effect. What we thought was meaningful and monumental has turned out to be inessential and irrelevant.
It wasn’t just sport. Remember celebrities? The pandemic got them too. No more nauseous renditions of “Imagine”. You may say I am a dreamer…
No more virgin grandmothers, naked in the bath, whispering banal snippets of wisdom. It’s easy if you try…
The pandemic has replaced our dreams with a harder, colder reality. Our mortality. And that of our loved ones.
Everything else has become trivial.
We applaud a different athlete now. Every night. The defenders of our lives in constant battle with the pandemic. These gladiators we cannot see in action, but we know they risk life and limb on the front line.
Their goal is simple: to keep us alive and healthy, to give us all extra time. And who knows when the siren will sound for half-time.