Bill Shankly put it best when he said:
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
It may seem as though this is hyperbole, an obvious exaggeration of what most people would consider a mere recreational activity. But football is transcendent, it has moments which are greater than you or I, a power to overwhelm us and transport us beyond artificial barriers of class, race and sex.
We may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Then again, maybe the moment of unadulterated joy at a last-minute goal, of turning to the stranger next to you and hugging in excitement and disbelief, maybe that is a moment that stretches on for eternity. Maybe that moment is enough. The way your breath catches in your throat when Messi begins dribbling past one, two, three defenders and then nutmegs the final one. The moment your heart stops as the goalkeeper steels himself, ready for the penalty kick. If we are insignificant, if there is no purpose to life except existence, aren’t these tiny moments that make us feel raw emotion all the more precious and worth holding on to?