“It Means More.”
This year’s slogan, released with the new home kits, is nothing more than a marketing tool. Something concocted by some Mad Men style advertising exec to sell more liver bird clad merchandise. At least, that’s what I tell myself to suppress the feeling that maybe, for once, whether by accident, or on purpose, this slogan truly reflects this squad and its supporters, and is not some heartless, cynical corporate motto.
And yet, despite my brain telling me that this is just a slogan to sell more kits, my heart swells with pride when I think about it. Because for me, Liverpool does mean more. And it surely must for at least some of the players. And the manager. And millions of more crazed Liverpool fans worldwide.
I wrote last season, after the second and decisive away leg against Manchester City in the quarterfinals of the Champions league, about how that game meant so much more than the average victory. The TL;DR version: I entered that match having just opened a second rejection letter for residency in Denmark just hours before. I felt like I might never feel joy again. All it took was a Mohamed Salah chipped goal to disabuse me of that notion.
That game was unique for another reason. During most matches I can shut out all the negative things in my life, if only for a couple of hours, earning a much-needed mental vacation from the worries. I couldn’t that day. A positive outcome on such a dark day meant more.
But on most match days I can get that mental vacation. And it’s important, too. Liverpool gives me structure, something to look forward to, an important reason to keep track of the otherwise meaningless days of the weeks, that would otherwise become a blur. For two hours a week, or four, or (if I’m really lucky) six hours, I can shut everything else out, focus on, and chat about, the lads in Red. It gives me a sense of belonging, a global community. Songs to sing. Dreams to dream. It means more.
Supporting Liverpool means more than 11 men kicking the ball around the pitch, and their ability, or lack thereof, to put the ball into the opponent’s back of the net.
I’ve long thought of as sports as a perfect microcosm of the outside world. There’s tribalism. There are the haves, and the have nots. There are politics. There are things that happen that are beyond your control. The moneyed elites usually take the spoils.
But not always.
Sometimes, arguably more than in the “real” world, a team of smart and hardworking individuals, can take down those at the top. Watching your team overcome odds to win, whether it’s a single match, or the biggest trophy of them all, is inspiring. Inspiration that things can get better. It means more.
It helps that this Liverpool side is a joy to watch. Recent past iterations of the lads in Red would not fill me with the same level of hope, entertainment, and blissful distraction. It helps that the manager, this his trademarked toothy grin, is such an inspirational character. It helps that there are so many fantastic stories and personalities in and around the club, from past and present.
Of course, international break has deprived us of Liverpool football. I’ve felt a bit more cut adrift than normal this week. My schedule has been disrupted! And yet, it is this break that allows me to realize how spot on “It means more” is, even if it is a cynical corporate ploy.