The thing about football…
As the season drags on, with every minute of every miserable match, I get just a little closer to having my Chris Cooper Moment.
Don’t know what I’m talking about?
I was there for that match. I wasn’t sitting very far from where Chris had his moment of clarity. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s shaped a lot of how I’ve viewed this season.
Despite what you may think if you only know me from my online persona, I’m not a super-emotional person. I don’t get crazy-excited about many things. I’m not incredibly demonstrative. I’m shy, I tend to keep to myself. For the most part, if I can possibly avoid the spotlight, I do everything in my power to do so.
And yet, here I am, pouring out words and emotion onto the internet for the world to see.
I watched the game tonight from a bar in SE Portland, a bar I’ve never been to when there wasn’t a soccer game on the big screen over the dining room. I sat at a table with people I didn’t know two years ago and I shouted at the tv more than once. In a bar. With strangers.
At my table were two other writers, a winemaker and an elementary school teacher. In various corners of the room were a 107ist board member, the founder of the Timbers Army, a girl I used to work with, and a guy who said some ridiculous things about me elsewhere on the internet.
We unite to support this team. We suffer as one.
I’ve been asked by non-Timbers friends why I put myself through all of this.
I can’t remember what my life was like before I found myself in the midst of all of this, this whirling, churning tornado of hopes and dreams and frustration and insanity.
The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.
- Terry Pratchett
That’s the thing. Terry Pratchett, who I do not in any way associate with soccer, hit the nail on the head. It’s not just about the game. It’s about everything surrounding the game. It’s about the relationships formed, friendships created through mutual celebration or mutual frustration.
And this. This is where a lot of us have spent most of the season:
Yes, yes, I know all the jokes…But I went to Chelsea and to Tottenham and to Rangers, and saw the same thing: that the natural state of a football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.
– Nick Hornby
And, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t trade a minute of that bitter disappointment for a minute of peaceful, blissful unawareness.
I just got a message from an internet friend in a city to the north, a city I’ve come to think of as a stronghold of the enemy, asking if I’m okay.
“I’ll be okay,” I tell him. “I’m an emotional creature. Rather, this miserable game has made me an emotional creature. It has changed me. For the better.”