What I did: Intro for Gods, Games, and Globalization
Grade for the day: B-
Would it be an exaggeration to say that Saturday evening was the happiest moment of my life?
Let me think about that... um.... Oh yea, of course it would!
I mean, there was that whole "getting married" thing a few years ago. And the kids. Gotta love those kids. I suppose graduating from boot camp was a big deal. Getting a job. Keeping that job (not a small detail).
Right, lots of happy moments. Real happiness. Not cotton candy happiness. The real deal.
Saturday evening was kinda special. It was yet another Fall day when a random group of 18-to-22-year-olds controlled every ounce of emotion and focus that I carry in this body. Oh college football! To paraphrase Joan Jett, I hate myself for loving you.
Yes, I'm talking about the great upset of the weekend. Penn State v. Ohio State.
Just in case you are fortunate enough not to follow this sort of thing, here is the backstory. Penn State was a 3 touchdown underdog to an Ohio State team that was undefeated and ranked second in the nation. While the game was in Happy Valley, their current coach Urban Meyer had never lost a true road game.
So let's just say that my expectations were low. None of the "experts" who I follow were calling for an upset. Ohio State had Pope Urban. Penn State had James "Hot Seat" Franklin. This was going to be over before halftime.
But it wasn't. Penn State showed up to play. James Franklin and his staff called a nearly perfect game. And the 107,000+ fans in attendance made Emile Durkheim himself spin in his grave with all of their "collective effervescence."
I have watched a lot of PSU football over the years. This was among the very best games that I have ever seen. In fact, when it was all finished, I will confess that I was very near tears.
That's kinda pathetic, right? I mean, a grown ass man nearly weeping because other grown men are colliding at high speeds and giving each other concussions. Add to this that I'm pretty certain that none of the players or coaches on that team would spit on me if I were on fire.
Still, there is that weird thing that happens when one is a "fan." This word, by the way, is derived from the Latin fanaticus, "possessed by a deity." The etymology is far from accidental. The possessed person is acting in an uncharacteristic way, controlled by an outside force and made to do unusual things.
During any given game, I scream, and twitch, and gesticulate madly. My blood pressure raises to dangerous levels. The first time my wife witnessed me watching a game, she stared in amazement and bewilderment. "Who are you?" "Sorry, I'll go back to 'normal' soon. Just give some space. And booze."
Indeed. When I'm watching the game, the people on the field are not so much people as they are ideas and representations. They are the ones acting out the hopes and goals of everyone watching, myself included.
Only they are not.
They too are human beings. Their bodies absorb the hits and manage the damage. And their presence on that field is no act of magic. It is the product of untold hours of preparation; genetic exceptionalism; and billions and billions of dollars.
On Saturday night watching this game, though, all that I saw was the flash and the artistry. When a late sack secured the victory, somehow I felt as though I had accomplished something. Something about me had been validated.
It makes no sense. None whatsoever.
But I'm a fan. And fans aren't supposed to make sense.