Simon Kelner: Sport brings passion to my life, but it's not the be-all

Kelner's view


Was yesterday just that little bit anti-climactic? Did you feel there was something missing from your life? Did you find yourself doing all those jobs you'd been putting off for a while?

If all or any of these statements applies to you, the chances are that sport plays a significant (perhaps too significant) role in your life, and that slight sense of emptiness you experienced yesterday was, I'm afraid, just the end of the football season. Even an adrenaline junkie would have found the denouement of this past campaign a little too much to bear, but for many of us it provided all the drama, extremes of emotion and excitement that, thankfully, is missing from our everyday lives. Now, I bow to no one in my love of sport, but even I think that, as a nation, we are in danger of exaggerating its importance. And that's before we've got to the European Football Championships, never mind the Olympics. In fact, the hysteria that attends most major sporting events these days is, I believe, another example of the way we have become infantilised as a nation – Chelsea's European triumph was the first item on the 5 Live news yesterday morning, more than 12 hours after the event and relegating the G8 and the Euro crisis to a supporting role.

Of course, sport provides welcome relief from death and disaster, catastrophe and collapse, and I'm sure George Osborne appreciated that, for a couple of hours or so on Saturday night, he was able to concentrate on something other than the potential meltdown of the European banking system. (There are those of us, however, who feel that if he could make time to go to the football, he might find a space in his diary to appear at the Leveson Inquiry, where he has some interesting questions to answer.)

Sport is simply a diversion for all of us, not just for Chancellors of the Exchequer, and we sometimes need to be reminded of that, particularly at times when the sporting action is so thrilling and the news from elsewhere is so depressing. We have a short break from football now before England take on the rest of Europe – something Mr Osborne might recognise – and then comes the Olympics, which promises an inexhaustible supply of highs and lows. (By the way, I do know there is a Test Match going on at the moment, but when it feels like mid-Winter outside it's hard to get into cricket.) Heaven knows what those who don't like sport make of it all. I couldn't really understand the people who said they were getting out of London for the duration of the Olympics. Why wouldn't they want to experience such a huge global event at close quarters? And if it's the hype and the hysteria they're trying to avoid, they'd do better to leave the country. In the meantime, we can get on with our lives. Now where's that paintbrush?

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