How sport can enhance our New Year optimism whilst keeping away those winter blues.
On the evening of the 31st December as the bells chime, for most people around the world, it is a time of optimism & excitement. It is the time when many of us make New Year resolutions with a variety of well laid out plans! The typical promises made to oneself are exercising more, eating less unhealthy foods & in general to try to be a better person. There is typically a business bump for all gyms by a 15% leap across the board. However, the dedication to stick to the gym is often found unwanted as statistically only 80% of paying members actually attend their local gym even though they have a membership. But this past year alone (that horrible number of 2020) we can all be forgiven for having different reasons for not being out as much as we used to …
I am sure we can all agree that just getting to the end of 2020 was an achievement in itself as the horrific pandemic continues to wreak havoc upon the whole world. Many families & businesses have suffered this past year but going back to the start of this blog I want everyone to remember that this is a time to look forward and not backward. How exactly we do that can only be down to each individual, as no matter what life throws at you there is always a positive to take away, no matter how small or big that might be. A famous line that I was always given to me by my mum is to “not to worry or be concerned about the future, as you can get knocked down by a bus tomorrow” and that for me tells me to enjoy what you have in life while making the best out of what comes your way.
As I said those little positives can come in various forms & for many of us the excitement of sports is one thing to help lift the excitement of a person's point of view. The first weekend of the year saw the Cleveland Browns make the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Similarly, we saw the Buffalo Bills win their division for the first time in 26 years, ending the domination of the New England Patriots who have won every year since 2008. This shows that as a fan group you don’t give up on your team and you continue to support through the thick & thin of disappointment in the belief that your team will come good once again. Apply that same thought process to life right now and it will keep you moving forward.
Being a Pats fan myself, I have been asked by fans of other teams “how will you survive as a fan not winning the Superbowl each year?” It is simple … my soccer team Glasgow Rangers have just gone 10 years without winning anything but it is looking like changing in 2021 & my national soccer team (Scotland) has not even qualified for a tournament since 1998 but managed to do so at the end of 2020, and will play in the European Championships this upcoming summer. My love and devotion for both never wavered and with a little patience, both looked to have got there in the end. Even if your team isn’t winning anything, for soccer fans there is something else that the month of Jan alone brings excitement & fun via … and that is the January transfer window!
The transfer window was introduced to European soccer leagues back in the 02/03 season with 2 windows being open, 1 in the summer & then 1 in January. Prior to that transfers could happen pretty much at any time of the calendar year! Beyond those dates, teams were not allowed to buy or sell players. The thought process was to make the season more competitive and stop the teams with bigger budgets simply buying players to strengthen at will or weaken their opponents by signing the smaller team’s best player just before both teams played each other. The theory was also that it would force teams, managers & coaches to work harder to improve their abilities rather than buying their way out.
But probably inadvertently it had a huge impact on the fans of the sport as it went from being able to buy players year-round to those set dates to get players in. Kind of like making Christmas twice a year rather than all year round. As much as many of us would say (just like Wizard) that they wished it could be Christmas every day, it would lose its magic & the build up sometimes is almost as much fun! So the January window became the soccer version of the Black Friday/ boxing day sales when every man, woman, child & soccer team were out looking for bargains.
The belief that your team's fortunes can change by getting that special player brings new vigor to life & let’s face it January is normally the dullest month of the year anyway (except for fans whose NFL team made the playoffs). A little bit of hope & excitement in sport is always a good cure for the winter blues.
As that famous 80’s rock band Poison said, “give me something to believe in” & that is just what January does! Regardless if it is a new soccer player being signed or your NFL team finally getting close to the Super Bowl January can be a wild ride….and as we all know regardless of those 2 possibilities, 2021 has to be better, right!?!?
Yours in Soccer,
Challenger’s Mystery Man AKA Alex “the outside cat” Green.