Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
Earlier this season, I wrote the first of these PSP Fans’ View articles as a reflection of what it meant (to me anyway) to be a fan of a team as evidence mounted that said team’s season was rapidly going to Hell.
Several months, several posts, and several players have now come and gone and it seems like as good time as any for the left bookend. (Not that I plan on stopping these posts until Dan & Ed grow weary of me.)
This year has been outright painful. Like so many others, my “real” life is often less than satisfactory. There are the petty battles at work, the struggles at home, the kids to chase, and the places to be… oh, the places to be…
I don’t believe it ever dawned on me just how much I had been relying on the Union to prop me up until the elastic gave way on that particular jock strap.
There is a theory in community building called “The Third Place.” The concept is that you have your home (1) and your work (2), but that you need a third place to integrate a community. For me, the Union were that place both in the brick-and-mortar sense of PPL and in the more esoteric sense of just having this “thing” that was mine. I grew to depend on that. And, too often, as I reached for it to buoy me this year, it wasn’t there.
So, that brings me back to that very first premise from “The Work of a Fan.” What are my thoughts, my feelings, my responsibilities and obligations now? Can I still summon the will to do that work?
If I could sigh and “yup” at the same time, that’s what you’d be hearing at this point.
I see the relationship between fans and their team as a Covenant (capital “C”). That’s not a word I use lightly as it is rooted deeply in my religious faith. A covenant is different from all other relationships. It is a shared inward look between two parties exchanging promises and making the commitment to uphold their end. That could be a definition for “contract,” but for one critical catch. In this covenant, the failure of one party does not lessen the responsibility of the second party to uphold their half of the deal.
The team can disappoint us on field and off. Their failure does not necessitate, does not mandate, does not allow that WE fail. Our half of the bargain must still be kept in trust that our faith will be met with a partner returning to the right path. Our side of this covenant will be upheld because, though the team may not live up to our ideals, we need them, we invite them; we reach out to them to be our partners in this thing.
It is not easy. But, it is work that must be done and it is work worth doing. We will hold the higher ground. The team will climb to meet us. Not this year, certainly. They started from a hole too deep. But we plant the flag. We hold the line. We show the colors. We sing the songs. We cheer the names. And, once-in-a-long-damn-while, we Doop.
This is who we are. This is who they will be again.