Football is very much at the back of people’s minds right now.
When your daily routine involves barely leaving the house, when queues form outside pharmacists and the first news you look for is an overnight fatality count, sporting events really don’t seem all that important.
In fact, it’s felt almost crass to be writing about sport at all. We’ve been gone for a week on this site, unable to drum up the passion to deliver rehashed news and empty speculation articles when people are dying. It may sound harsh and perhaps a little defeatist, but who cares if your club are watching a player right now; they’re not likely to be in his sitting room, are they? He’s not going to be meeting them for a chat, there’s no scouting being done.
It really doesn’t matter.
That’s perhaps not the sort of opinion shared by everyone and in today’s Independent, Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton has outlined his beliefs around the current crisis. He’s been through tough times at previous clubs, suffering administration at Portsmouth which brought that to jobs and security, but nothing like the current crisis.
“The reality is I’ve got certain players in my squad – and myself included – whose wives and partners are pregnant,” he said. “I’ve got players whose children have diabetes or asthma. They’re all at critical risk and the first thing I tell any of my players is to be safe.”
Telling people to be safe, to look after their loved ones and to stay positive seems to be the core of almost every conversation we have at the moment, whether it is over a garden fence, from 2m away in a supermarket queue on a video call to loved ones you used to say every day. It’s vital advice and only further distances football from things that are important, but upon the resumption of normal life, whenever that may be, Appleton believes football has a big part to play in lifting people’s spirits.
“There’s a lot of time now to think and mull things over. First and foremost, it’s just about staying safe. But down the line somewhere, football can play a huge part in lifting everyone’s spirits after what’s going to have been a really difficult few months, and we’ll keep the same mentality and pick up where we left off.”
The Imps are currently 15th in League One and look likely to retain their status as a third-tier club for the first time since 1985.
Michael Appleton is spot on; there’s little importance in the outcome of Bolton against Lincoln right now, but if this virus hadn’t happened that’s the game the club would be looking forward to tomorrow.
When things do get back to normal, everyday life will feel strange for a short while and football will help keep people’s spirits lifted as the curse of the virus slowly goes away.
It might not seem important right now, but sport promotes passion and that’s good for anyone’s mental health. Caring, about anything, is much better than blind indifference.