Sustainable Pace

Stop following professional football

I started following professional football in 1986. As a youngster I was quite passionate about it, but in the recent years that passion slowly receded, and I think following professional football is now only a habit, something that no longer defines me or improves my life. Let's find out if that's true.

The decision

I had so much useless knowledge about football, and I felt like I don't want to burden my brain with that any longer. I decided to stop following professional football for the first half of the season 2014/15. This means

The first weeks

One habit I had was to listen to Bundesliga on web radio on Saturday afternoons. Somehow I unconsciously organized my day around it, and not tuning in felt super weird. It was strange to do something else and not know who was playing whom and how my favourite team was doing.

During the week I used to catch up with the latest football news on some websites. I felt the urge to look up results, and had to actively stop myself. Sometimes, when I was tired from work, I caught myself unconsciously typing the URL of a football site in the address bar. This was truly a powerful habit.

In the beginning I was very dogmatic about it, for example I distracted myself when results were announced on the radio during the news (hands over ears, singing "lalala"). I wanted to know the results, but didn't want to give in to the temptation.

I still thought about football, but not getting the satisfaction of watching and reading about it felt like withdrawal and totally strange. I felt like a junkie.

After six weeks

Magically, the withdrawal symptoms disappeared almost completely. A whole matchday could pass without me noticing. Somehow when football results came up during the news on the radio, I listened to it, trying not to make a big deal about it.

I started to wonder that this might be what normal people knew about football. It felt strange, but in a good way.


I started to feel more relaxed about the whole thing, which was good on the one hand, but weird on the other: I sometimes felt like I had already beaten the habit, and caught myself reasoning that watching a single game or highlights show might be ok. At several points I almost gave in to this temptation.

And at one point I got weak: I accidentally looked at a Bundesliga ranking on a website unrelated to football, and ended up studying it for a few minutes. It felt strange to see the table without knowing a single result. I felt bad about it, but not too bad, maybe because the urge to dig deeper and read more was simply not there.

I managed not to give in to temptation again.


I'm undecided whether this experiment was a success or not. But I do start to sense a growing indifference when it comes to professional football.

A friend commented that this experiment was totally stupid and habits like this are actually a good thing, they give your life a rhythm. I thought about that for some time, and he might have a point. However, I do feel vaguely good about the experiment, and I trust this instinct and carry on in order to find out more.

My plan is to watch and enjoy some of the "important" matches (for example the Champions League final), but make that an exception. I will continue not to read anything football related. Let's see where this will lead to.