As people who love watching Messi, we always had one question on our mind: Why do we?
For that, I decided to do a little research. Sadly, this research lead me to two other questions: Why do we love watching football to begin with?
And how are these two things even related?
Let me explain.
A few years back I found myself watching this kid play football in the street. He looked so full of life. His opponents struggled to get the ball off of him which struck me even more. He would dribble multiple players and end up scoring. This kid was no professional athlete. This kid was no superstar. Yet, for some reason, I watched him anyway. This kid is why we watch football.
In most stages of football’s history it was considered a source of entertainment. And, obviously, it still is.
A new football fan, let’s call him John, would sit down and watch two teams play. He has little or no knowledge of the players, the teams, or even the sport but he watches anyway. All of a sudden, one of the players on one of the teams does something John’s mind cannot comprehend. Whether it’s something that seems physically impossible to him or basically something he considered creative, John has just been entertained.
This when John smiles, looks at the rest of this player’s team, and then looks back at the player and thinks: “Hey you! Do that again.”
John remains oblivious to anything related to football at this point. Yet, he knows one thing: he witnessed a different type of art that grabbed his attention and he probably wants to witness it again.
He’ll probably leave even before the match is over and have no clue who actually won that match but be sure that he will come around again asking to be entertained.
So is it really just a sport in which a spectator sits down and hopes the team he likes wins? Or is it actually one big show of what the human mind and body are capable of?
John will return and start actually supporting the team that entertained him. He’ll even bring friends this time. However, one of his friends might be pleased by a player on the opposite team.
Just like in a movie, spectators are presented with a villain and a good guy. But, the interesting thing about football is that each fan chooses his own villain and his own good guy. Each fan expects his team to entertain him again but also crush the villain.
The fans wait to see the next big creation of art on the field. Dramatic moments overwhelm the spectators. Some might yell. Some might cry. Some might laugh. Some, especially those who get too excited, might even refuse to watch because their heart and mind can no longer handle it all. Adrenaline levels hit sky high. The fans are cheering as they suddenly hear music in the back of their minds and they just KNOW that it’s show-time!
Give me something to watch. Entertain me. Show me your talent. Show me what you have been working on for years. This is not a ball. This is a paintbrush. Paint something I’ll remember. Take your body to the next level and show me what human intelligence is all about. Give me a story to tell.
This is why we watch football.
This is why when Zinedine Zidane got up in the air, took the ball on his chest and turned his entire body in order to execute the most elegant pass in a matter of seconds you stood by and said: “Hold on just one minute. That was amazing. How did he do that? That’s not even logical”
This is why when Ronaldinho danced around the ball making his opponent look like a complete fool and yet also managed to pull off the most unexpected pass the fans gave him a standing ovation. And sometimes, even rival fans joined the party. The millions watching at home clapped. A man smiled, put his hand on his forehead and yelled for his son to come watch what just happened. And you can be sure that that little boy has just been entertained as well.
Hundreds of players have come into the game and had major impact on it. Fans worldwide have been entertained and have a lot of stories to tell. However, one man has always kept people on their feet. This man was once very similar to the kid I watched on the street. His goal was to enjoy what he was doing and entertain whoever came to watch him. This man is called Lionel Messi.
As soon as Lionel Messi grabs the ball fans worldwide know that something special is going to happen. In fact, his first flick has the power to electrify an entire stadium. His ability to predict what his opponent is thinking leaves you shocked. His ability to crush everything you learnt about physics is enough for you to turn off your television and say: “Umm, how did he…Hell, I don’t think I should know.”
Just smile, my friend. This is art. This is a show. And you have just been entertained.