Hello again. It’s me, Joey.
January came and went in the blink of an eye, huh? Maybe it’s just me; a lot happened for us this last month. I’m not going to recount it in this post for 2 reasons. 1. Life has to be about going forward, not obsessing over the successes and failures of the past. 2. This is a weekly blog. Just go read the ones from before if you want. That’s how the internet works. Come on.
The Superbowl is coming up this Sunday. For those of you living under a European rock (or, according to my Google Analytics, my 1 Japanese reader [こんいちは！]), the Superbowl is that special time of year where we as Americans set aside our political, religious, and socioeconomic differences and collectively demand that the day after the Superbowl be a national holiday. The Patriots are playing…someone… bird team. I’m gonna look it up real quick. Falcons. I was close.
Don’t get it wrong, I like football. Well, I like sports. At least, I like strategy and rules designed to force people to try and outsmart each other. When I was growing up, my family wasn’t really into football. We were a baseball family, specifically a Redsox family. That was something that my dad and I bonded over.
Thinking about it, I’ve never really talked about this story, but it’s something that has defined my worldview. One of my earliest memories is of me sitting at the foot of my parents bed in our small parsonage in New Hampshire, well beyond my bedtime. It was the late 90’s, and anyone who loved baseball before 2004 knows that the Redsox played the game well, but never won. It was the last game of the regular season, and (no surprise) the Redsox were losing. It didn’t matter. Win or lose, the Redsox were done for the year. Nomar Garciaparra, the shortstop and my hero for no other reason than that he could hit the ball and hated the Yankees, stepped out of the dugout. It wasn’t his turn to bat. Rather, he removed his cap and waved it to the fans as if to say ‘thank you for sticking with us.’ At this point, tears streamed down my 5 year old face. Then, after the game was over and I had regained a shred of my composure, my father said something to me that I’ll never forget: “You’re a Redsox fan. Get used to losing.”
The strange thing about it was it comforted me. my father is also a Redsox fan, although he was expressing his disappointment differently. Somewhere out there was another family with another little boy, who was trying to keep his tears inside and failing like I was. His father would have to explain to what to expect from being a lifelong Redsox fan, like my was. All 4 of us would go to bed with pits in our stomach. In that moment, I suddenly felt something I didn’t expect: pride. Pride in my terrible team. Pride in my family for enduring year after year Redsox-based heartbreak. Most of all, however, I felt pride being part of a community of Redsox fans that, in one heart, grieved over the loss of the season. For the first time, I felt like a part of something bigger than me.
I guess that’s why people get so fanatical over sports’ teams. It’s an investment in a unifying bond that transcends the boxes we put ourselves into. That’s why, despite not really being a fan of football, I look forward to the Superbowl every year like it’s a holiday. For about 3 and a half hours, we’re all in the same community, ending the night with either exuberation or despair. Both bind communities together, making them stronger, and that’s an amazing thing that a simple game of throwing and catching an oval ball can do.
Well, that’s my thoughts for the week. Click the red ‘Follow’ button on the right of the page to get emails when I post. Talk to you next week.