NOT everyone likes sport. Hard as that seems to fathom. Indeed, there are some people who believe it to be an utter waste of energy. You’ll know the type. Folk who like to peer down their noses to sneer at “22 grown men kicking a pig’s bladder around a field”. And they’re not referring literally to a particularly raucous night out in Greenock either.

There is an elitism around sport that can shame those who love it into feeling a touch embarrassed. It is prevalent in newspapers, with the sports section often patronisingly referred to as “the toy department” while news and business journalists report on what they believe to be the proper issues of the day.

Nick Hornby referenced it in his book Fever Pitch, too. Moving in literary circles as befitting his lifestyle at the time, the author would bump into people at dinner parties and be met with bemused looks when he spoke about his keen interest in the fortunes of Arsenal.

It was almost as if it were impossible to be able to enjoy books, theatre and other aspects of highbrow culture but also football at the same time. In some minds that was entirely incompatible, with Hornby made to feel as if he were intellectually inferior because of this enthusiasm for sport.

(Ironically, the book’s success actually helped create a new breed of middle-class football fans who were then mercilessly parodied in a series of Fast Show sketches).

Most sports fans will have gone through something similar to Hornby at some point. Drawn into the company of strangers at weddings or parties and receiving the equivalent of a condescending pat on the head when it’s announced that “he’s a bit nervous because there’s a big game on today” and then feeling your cheeks going red for caring so much.

But sport matters for so many different reasons. And we are about to find out why over the next few weeks and months as it is removed from our lives as a result of the spreading coronavirus.

You don’t have to like sport to appreciate the value of it in the same way that there ought to be an understanding that some people like going to the opera or collecting stamps even if you don’t.

For many people, the sporting calendar provides an element of structure to their lives. It is regimented and ordered. The football fixtures come out and plans are made around them. Holidays are taken in the summer or the winter break. A sense of anticipation builds ahead of every match and the post-mortem follows for days when it is over. A postponement is seen as a waste of an afternoon.

Amid the tedium of normal life – with work, school and other dreary commitments to fulfil – it would be wrong to underplay the significance that sport brings to those who follow it closely.

For many middle-aged (often working class) men, in particular, it helps create a sense of community and an environment where they can open up and be expressive in a way they wouldn’t be comfortable with at other times.

To flip the wedding scenario from earlier, there is nothing better than being introduced to a fellow football fan, realising you have something in common, and then chatting way like old pals for the rest of the evening – whether you support the same team or not. It is like being a member of a worldwide club where everyone is welcome to join.

You only have to look at the growth of the Football Memories programme (now extended to include a number of other sports) and its capacity for helping those struggling with dementia or social inclusion as they sit for hours over tea and biscuits chatting about games and players gone by. You can’t dismiss something as powerful as that.

Sport – whether through participation or merely spectating – often provides a welcome source of release, especially in the face of an ongoing crisis like the one currently traversing the globe.

Heading to a match wouldn’t have made those problems disappear but it would at least have provided temporary escapism from other problems and in the company of like-minded souls. Sport, and football especially, is the glue that holds together large parts of Scottish society.

And now we are set to be without it for the foreseeable future. It is hard to argue against the logic behind the raft of mass postponements. Containing, or at the very least, slowing down the spread of the virus to protect lives has to be the No.1 priority.

But it has left an undeniable vacuum in many of our lives with no matches to attend, no press conferences to attend or quotes to be gathered. Sports channels will have no choice but to show hour after hour of re-runs or zoom in on whatever live sport survives. Watch out for the Sky cameras turning up at the under-12 tiddlywink trials.

Taxi drivers will have to go back to talking about the weather, as football fans traipse miserably around shopping centres or soft-play areas.

Sport isn’t the most important thing in the world. But to those who care about it, it matters a lot. We’re going to miss it while it’s gone.