￼I’m the classic sports fan with one notable exception: I grew up on the proverbial “fault line” in the state of Connecticut where one is often asked “Are you from the Red Sox side or the Yankees side of the state?” The fault line is where I resided and the nexus from which all out wars ensued.
I’m a Red Sox fan, more specifically, and a proud part of “Red Sox Nation.” My parents, grandparents, and their parents before them professed their faith in Boston athletic clubs including the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and our beloved Red Sox! To be a Red Sox fan meant to endure indescribable heartache, fanatically rooting for them to win, but always knowing that tragedy lurked right around the corner.
As a kid, I languished through the 1975 World Series and a loss in 7 games. As a college senior in 1986, I sat in shock at a party when the ball went through Bill Buckner’s legs and my Sox then lost to the NY Mets. Now a business professional, I literally ran in circles around my condo when the Red Sox finally won in 2004 and again in 2007. The “Curse of the Bambino,” the fateful sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920 and the superstition cited as the reason for Boston Red Sox failure, was finally lifted.
Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful franchises: winning the first World Series on their way to five titles. After the sale, however, those “Damned Yankees” became one of the most successful franchises in baseball history. This was just one more thing to endure for this kid from the proverbial “fault line.” As a very spiritual person, I somehow knew that my Grandparents were smiling down on us when our Red Sox finally won!
We participate in society the same way we played sports. As if a team ourselves, we pull together as a community and ultimately toward something bigger and greater than ourselves. But in the end, isn’t it just a game? Doesn’t each game have a winner and a loser followed by the tried and true phrase “…but it’s how you play the game?” It’s what we’re taught as children. Yet as adults, this “game” takes on a life of its own.
I used to be one of those people who planned their weekly schedule around the rotation of when their favorite team was playing. I was like most crazy fans. We could be rooting for any sport, any nation, at any age, man or woman, or even religious affiliation. This notion of team worship has become a phenomenon. What does this mean? Was this simply a distraction for me, or merely an escape from the reality of my day? After all, we get to hear the sports clichés all the time, listening constantly to athletes describe their personal efforts, behavior, or team focus. ”We need to STEP UP, leave it all out on the field, battle hard in the trenches, make plays.” I’ve even heard the interviews with today’s athlete’s interpretation of their multi-million dollar contract disputes as “I’m just trying to put food on the table for my family.” Really? Isn’t this just a game?
So now back to October, the fall classic, the World Series, the holy grail… A series of playoffs between teams from across the nation, and, once again, I’m left to witness my Red Sox suffer the biggest September collapse ever recorded in baseball history. But somehow we have faith, we keep pulling, win or lose, there’s always next season...
And we start all over again.