“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
– Rogers Hornsby
There is something exhilarating and contagious about people who are fanatical about their team/favorite player. It’s positively tribal the way they will don colorful jerseys, paint their faces and chest bump strangers with a grunt. I have never had a ‘team’ although when people find out I am from Montreal I do the requisite fist pump in the air and say, “Go Habs Go!”
Star athletes command high salaries and advertising endorsements, and are adulated for their ability to kick a ball or throw a ball or hit a ball. It seems kind of crazy- they aren’t finding a cure for cancer (I hate that I just used this cliche!) or a way to end global warming (it’s real), and yet as a society we treat them as gods.
This is World Cup season and all over the globe people are getting together to cheer for their favorite team or get out their office/road rage aggression by yelling at the opposition. Everyone in Huatulco was out to watch Mexico beat Germany, eyes glued to big screen TVs, the streets a blur of green jerseys and a reason to have a beer at 10AM.
While I personally find it difficult to muster up much enthusiasm or nationalism for a team, I am fully aware of the value of what I learned playing sports growing up. The burden of keeping up when you move as a team, the value of goal-focus and training preparation have served me well. When I was rowing in high school we followed a grueling training schedule for six months for a month of races. When race season was upon us I didn’t really care about winning. I mostly cared about not letting my team down. As we moved elegantly across the water, the rhythm of our oars plunging with perfect synchronicity into the water, my gaze on the back of my teammate’s head in front of me, I felt an incredible peace and sense of belonging that I have rarely felt since.
This month our writers explore sports: soccer, baseball, diving. Whatever aspect it is that gets you up early on a Sunday morning to go cheer for your team or your kid, or to run your miles for marathon prep, there is no doubt that while teams may divide us, the drive to move and accomplish unites us all.
See you next month,