“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football,” said Albert Camus once upon a time. Yep, aside from being a Nobel Prize winning author, thinker and the inspiration for The Cure’s debut single, he was a nifty goalkeeper too. And you know what? He had a point!
I was over the moon – sorry, no more cliches, I promise – to see the return of the Premier League this weekend, not just because Spurs won, Arsenal lost and all of the strikers I picked for my fantasy football team notched – although these were all very welcome outcomes, of course – but because of all the things that I learn from the beautiful game and miss while it’s away during the long summer months.
For example, my geography is, I would say, above average. Is this down to knuckling down studying contours and annual rainfall in classes way back when? Nah, it’s thanks to years of wanting to know more about where opposing teams come from, a vast influx of overseas players into the English leagues and more World Cup tournaments than I’m prepared to admit I’ve been around to watch. I’m pretty handy when capital cities crop up in pub quizzes now. Oh yes.
Then there’s the linguistic stuff; I can usually make an educated guess as to the pronunciation of words in other languages – modern languages lessons? Well, to a small degree, yes, they were all I was good at during school – but most of this is thanks to the plethora of nationalities on show in the top flight and learning how to pronounce their names properly.
How about maths? I’m the first to admit that I’m woeful at this and get a headache when I have to do anything related to numbers, but I’ve got very fast at analysing the tables and working out which scorelines are required for my team to climb higher. Then there’s biology – with so many injuries in football, it’s quite easy to learn about muscle tears, bone fractures and recovery times.
So there you go – it’s not just about watching a load of overpaid blokes kicking a ball around; if you’re not careful you could learn something too. If Dylan and Xander turn out liking football, I’ll be happy for more than one reason.