Photo: Earl Gardner
EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked for people interested in writing about local fans’ experiences, and so many of you responded that we decided to run one fan post a day during the MLS break and then make this a regular weekly feature. We’re starting with this great piece from Chris Rudderow.
As the adage goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, to pile on a cliché, that ship sailed a long time ago. With maturity came things like marriage, mortgage, children, and the reality that I would, in fact, have to work Every Day Of My Life.
The funny thing is, I don’t mind it that much. The gifts that come with maturity are damn rewarding, and the small joys, taken when available, add interludes of brighter light to the routine. These particular thoughts, as a matter of fact, were first collected and organized while enjoying a beer after a post-lawnmowing shower. It was awesome.
For two years, I had the most frequent, and greatest, of these small, joyous moments at PPL Park cheering for this team of my own. This team that I had waited for since the Penn-Jersey Spirit faded away. This team that I bought into before they even existed.
Then came Year Three. Walking across Lot B into the San Jose game, I turned to my uncle and confessed that there was no joy in coming this year. It was lost somewhere in the trades, the lies, and the on-field performance. Coming to the games, just being a fan, had become work.
It’s taken a few more games and a lot of reflection to come around to being OK with that.
Maturing as a fan may mean putting in time and effort even when it is not so fun. It may mean cheering when you struggle to find anything worthy of the song. It may mean loving, even though you fear the love is not reciprocated. It may mean finding smaller joys.
So far this year, my personal “shower beers” are the emergence of MacMath as a legitimate starter, Gaddis as a second round steal, and seeing flashes of the player Michael Farfan could become.
I stay for these moments. I stay to keep the team viable. I stay to hold my place so I can transition from going to games with my grandfather to going to games someday with my grandchildren, while hugging whatever ragged, smelly remains of my “Founding Member” scarf that linger on.
In that time, there may be great joys. There will definitely be smaller ones along the way. Through it all, there will be the work.