Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Bond Shared by Fans

How does one explain this unmistakeable bond that occurs when humans share loyalty and a rooting interest for the same professional sports team? It is one of the few examples in life where difference in gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or political party becomes irrelevant. If we share a passion for the same team, we are family.  When the team that we root for wins a championship, the shared euphoria that strengthens our bond, becomes incomprehensible.

As a longtime Philadelphia sports fan I have experienced this on a few occasions; twice with the Flyers and Phillies and once with the 76ers. When these teams won their championships, the exhiliration felt in the Delaware Valley reached unprecedented levels. Millions of fans turned out for celebratory parades. They embraced the success that they truly believed they had an impact on, and they put aside all that might otherwise divide them. Strangers celebrated as family, these moments temporarily frozen in time and reveled in the recent success that the championship had brought to their city.

This past Thursday one of the most loyal fan bases in the nation finally experienced a unique feeling of jubilation that only a championship can bring. Within the past 108 years there had been many failures and bizarre near misses that prevented championship success. (See Steve Bartman). However, the futility experienced by the Chicago Cubs did not sever the ties that bonded their fans, quite the opposite is true.  As the years passed, new generations were added to this suffering yet resilient fan base and their resolve to root for a World Series Champion never wavered.  Game after game they filled the seats at Wrigley Field, (put a visit on your bucket list) they faithfully patronized their favorite watering holes and they wore the phrase, "wait until next year" as a badge of honor.

 Eleven wins during October and November of 2016 changed the fortunes of the Chicago Cubs and their fan base forever.  When Wednesday gave way to Thursday this past week, with the championship secured, tremors were felt that would rock the foundation of this fan base from Cleveland to Chicago. No longer were they united by misery that came from years of futility. On this historic evening, misery would be replaced by an ecstasy that only winning World Series titles can bring.  Once bonded by misery they were now bonded forever by championship glory. 

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