If you saw my post from yesterday or if you’re in the US or if you have a Facebook account or if you have a Twitter account or if you pay any attention at all to the world, you are very likely aware that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. If you weren’t aware of this, take a few moments to do a Google search and get yourself caught up.
No, really. I’ll wait.
I’m from Chicago. I’m a southsider. Technically, I should dislike the Cubs and love the White Sox. But, you know, I really don’t care. At all. About baseball. About football. About basketball. About soccer. About hockey. About badminton.
I simply don’t follow sports. Not really. I mean, I’ll check in during the Olympics – it’s only every 4 years. I’ll take a peek now and then to see how the TCU football team is doing – because I have Horned Frog Pride. I’m not invested in who wins the “Crosstown Classic.” I have no idea when the basketball season begins. I usually watch movies during the Stanley Cup.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy if Chicago teams do well. But my life doesn’t revolve around sports.
Let me make this very clear: I don’t dislike sports! I think sports are great. I played softball in a league from ages 8 to 18. Then I played intramural softball in college. Then I played in another league when I was living in Michigan. I also played intramural volleyball, football, and soccer in college. For fun. I went to every home football and basketball game when I was in college, too. During the football games, I sat down only during half-time. For the women’s basketball games, my friends and I formed the TCU Lady Frogs Kazoo Band since the school band didn’t deem the women’s basketball games worthy of their time. I was in it. I was invested. I knew TCU athletes. Many were my neighbors in the dorms and became really close friends. I tutored the players and was able to impact their academic lives.
I do not dislike sports.
I’m just not into them anymore. If it weren’t for friends on Facebook, I’d have no idea that it’s 106 days until pitchers and catchers report or that it’s 150 days until MLB Opening Day. And, honestly, I’ll forget and it won’t cross my mind again until it crosses my Facebook Feed. I know that we’re in the middle of football season, but I couldn’t tell you which teams are doing well and which aren’t. I have no idea how far into the season we are at this point. I’m reminded about the Superbowl when I get advertisements from Best Buy telling me about the TVs that are on sale just in time for the “big game.”
Hey, I know the rules. I know how the games are played. I know the point to these sports. (Except, perhaps, golf. The point of golf always confounds me.) If I were to go to a game – whether it be baseball or football or basketball – I could yell my head off at the referees/umpires with the best of them. I just have no desire to do so.
At this point, you might be wondering why in the world I’m writing a blog post about sports if I don’t follow sports? Or why I was so involved in the Cubs World Series win this year. Jiminy Christmas! One look at my Facebook profile or my Twitter feed will tell you that I was posting, reposting, and retweeting like crazy. I was up until 4am watching the news coverage – flipping from channel to channel to see who had the best interview going at the moment. You’d swear I was bleeding Cubbie blue!
I’ve wondered about this, too. Why did I jump up and scream when Kris Bryant threw that ball to Anthony Rizzo to end the inning/game/series? Why did I burst into tears as I watched the players run to each other in joy and celebration? Why is it that I find myself crying every time I see a video or read an article about the Cubs’ win?
I don’t dislike sports. But I also don’t care about them. So, why? Actually, I think it has nothing to do with sports and sportsing.
I think it has everything to do with community and support.
“Sport is friendship; sport is health, sport is education, sport is life, sport brings the world together.” – Juan Antonio Samaranch
While I may not be invested in the sports themselves, I am invested in my friends, my neighbors, my city, etc. I don’t follow their teams, but I can tell you that Rachel loves the St. Louis Cardinals, Patty loves the Cincinnati Reds, Diana loves the New York Yankees, Karin loves the San Francisco Giants, Brenda loves the New York Mets, Rosa loves the Washington Nationals, Polly loves the Green Bay Packers, MJ loves the Oregon Ducks, Mary loves the Ohio Buckeyes, Kim loves the Chicago Blackhawks, Jeanine loves the Portland Thorns.
When their teams do well, they are happy. And, so, I’m happy for them. These teams don’t matter to me, but they matter to them…and that’s what’s important. I respect that. Believe it or not, I understand it.
Fandom is not something to be taken lightly. Think about your own fandoms and what they’ve brought to your life. I’m not necessarily talking about sports, either. Think about ALL of your fandoms. How have they impacted your life?
When I immersed myself in Buffy fandom, I met my best friend. Our mutual obsession with the show and fan fiction gave us a foundation to build a friendship on. I’m still friends with many others from “the Buffy years.” When I found Xena fan fiction, I found the works of many authors who are now my friends. That fandom expanded to include the much broader world of Lesbian Fiction. That brought me to my involvement in the Golden Crown Literary Society – I’ve been a Board member for nearly 4 years. I’ve found that so very many of the people I’ve met through GCLS are kindred spirits in other ways. They’ve gotten me more involved in politics. They’ve engaged me in conversations about theatre. They’ve broadened my perspectives.
But let’s go back to sports. To the Cubs.
Like I said, I’m a southsider. My great grandparents came to the United States – separately – from Italy. They eventually settled down and raised their family in the Armour Square neighborhood of Chicago. (Armour Square is often lumped in with Bridgeport.) They weren’t far from South Side Park, where the team we know as the White Sox played baseball. When Comiskey Park opened, they could walk to the stadium. In fact, I remember being at my great uncle’s house when games were being played and I could hear the cheering from the stadium. I still have a lot of family living in that area. Needless to say, the family is all about the White Sox.
Except for Uncle Tony. He was one of my grandmother’s 4 brothers. Back in the day, he was a peddler, working the streets of his neighborhood selling and delivering produce. In fact, even after he retired, we all counted on Uncle Tony to bring the fruit and veggies to Gram’s house. I learned how to pick out a great watermelon from him. Uncle Tony was a die-hard Cubs fan. He took a lot of ribbing from the family. But he never backed down. He wore his Cubs hats and jackets with pride. He was not a fair-weather fan. Win or lose, he loved the Cubs. So when that last out was made and the celebrations started, the first thing out of my mouth was “YES!” The second thing out of my mouth was “Uncle Tony, did you see that?!” It was an almost tangible connection to my uncle, who passed away more than a decade ago, and his love for the Cubs. It wasn’t about me. It was about Uncle Tony.
I watched TV for hours after the game was over – player reactions, fan reactions, celebrity reactions. You name it, I was watching it. I scoured the internet for images and video. It was exciting. It still is.
The Cubs are the World Series Champions!
Years, decades of disappointment – losing the ’45 World Series to Detroit in game 7 and the Curse of the Billy Goat; blowing the National League East lead in ’69; losing the NLCS to San Diego in ’84 (Oh, I remember that year); Steve Bartman in ’03. The goat and Bartman aside, it came down to just not having a team that could pull it off. Until this year.
I’m particularly proud of Chicago and Cubs fans. Sure there was partying. Yes, there are reports of a bit of “property damage” (but so little that I haven’t seen any major stories about it). But there were no riots. There wasn’t civil unrest. It was a good kind of crazy. I watched the live feeds showing the police lining up to provide barriers – and the fans walking down the street high-fiving those officers as they stood ready. I watched men and women – of all colors, of all religions – celebrating together. They were laughing. They were crying. They were jumping around. They were high-fiving. They were taking selfies. They were hugging.
They were Cubs fans. They were Chicagoans. They were in it with and for each other. It was a beautiful thing to see. The victory parade and rally are taking place tomorrow. I hope this sense of communal celebration continues. Don’t let me down, Chicago.
So, yeah. I don’t follow sports. When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter to my existence who wins or who loses. Ultimately, for me, it’s about community and relationships. Even if I don’t pay attention, it’s important to me that these sports exist.
That being said, Go, CUBS, Go!
This is what I read on the Guardian’s follow along blog by blow blog of the game after it was over…and it was so good I have to share:
It wouldn’t have been the same if Chicago steamrolled over Cleveland.
It needed to be hard earned, they needed to be pressed to the limit. The Cubs needed to climb out of a 3-1 hole, because if you’re going to undo 108 years of history, it has to come in a unique way. They had to blow a 5-1 lead. They had to watch their nearly flawless closer melt down. They had to bring on a pair of back-end roster relievers to pull it out.
It’s not that the trauma validates the achievement – a championship is a championship, as a sweep or in seven. But for this franchise, the lovable losers, it had to be tedious, heart-stopping and dramatic for the drought to end in a way that felt right
And it did.
Congratulations to the Cubs, and the Cleveland Indians, who put baseball on top and turned October and November into in festival of the game.
(back to Ona now) Congrats to all of Chicago who lived through it and to all of those in the country who had a few moments respite from the electoral cycle to watch another historical moment with joy and beauty!
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