Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

We turn to sport in times of need, but without it , what do we do?

Posted on 24 March 2020 by Inam Yaphi

A virus rippled through the West and with many lives lost, it brought the inevitable end to the sporting calendar year, for now. 

In unprecedented times, many scrambled for a quick fix as I turned to Man United vs Barcelona at Wembley in 2011. My word, a young Pep Guardiola, a peak Xavi, Sergio Busquets and a Lionel Messi at the top of his game. It was and still is, in simple terms – a tiki-taka masterclass. 

But across Britain, as the well-off were bidet-bound, supermarkets were overcome by preposterous panic as pasta and toilet roll flew off the shelves – the latter being involved in a viral #StayAtHomeChallenge of keepy-uppies. This is a perfect example that even if you can’t play it nor watch it – humans will still find a “football” to kick.

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Sport is what people turn to in times of need, but when there is no sport, what do we do? 

Pictures of the elderly standing alone in aisles of non-existent supplies show humans have turned to selfishness, greed and have acted in their own self-interests. Have people always been so self-absorbed? Or have we just not noticed as we spent our weekends disconnected from the world in stadiums and on our couches overindulging in sport? 

UEFA has stretched out a helping hand to clubs who will struggle to balance the books through the COVID-19 pandemic. They have extended the deadline for clubs to show their financial records from March 31 to the end of April.  Sport can once again lead people with the values of why we play. Togetherness, resilience and as the South Africans say ubuntu. 

The bigger clubs have to help smaller clubs through these tough times. As maybe this is the only way someone will realize, they don’t need four almond milk cartoons and that they can leave something for the lactose intolerant person behind. Football and family values are intertwined, with the most important rule being to look after each other. This is something the “football family” has to do. These are the small steps in showing the world that the only way to make it out of this is together. 

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Chelsea Football Club, who had their whole squad and backroom staff go into self-isolation after winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19, have made a huge step in helping the struggling NHS. They have offered to accommodate their staff in the Millennium Hotel which is often used by the club before matchdays. It serves as a perfect location given its close proximity to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

It is also reported that Manchester United and Manchester City have also donated a combined £100,000 to help food banks in Greater Manchester. 

Individually, Crystal Palace talisman Wilfred Zaha, who is often in the news for transfer rumors taking him away from Selhurst Park, has made available up to 50 accommodations for NHS Staff to stay in. This is thanks to his property investments. Sky Sports pundit and 12-time league winner, Gary Neville has also done the same with his Hotel Football.

US Men’s International stars Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams have all donated to Feeding America to help food banks during this crisis. They urged their colleagues including US Women’s International team to join in and help fight food insecurities in America. 

With important sporting figures taking a stand for the greater good of those in need, the general public will and have to do the same. By staying indoors, staying out of crowds and being safe by not putting the vulnerable in danger.

Times like this bring a Nelson Mandela quote to mind that “a fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.”

This too shall pass.