My First Last Word
October 11, 2011
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I’ve had 49ers season tickets my entire life. From the age of five on, I have spent countless fall Sunday afternoons sitting on a hard orange seat behind Big Mike.
Big Mike and his son are at every game. Always. Rain or shine, they show up at Candlestick Park—woops, Monster Park—and turn into stereotypical football fans. Angry, drunk, shirtless. The real face of American sports spectation.
For those of you who have never been to a live professional football game, let me tell you, you are missing out. I relish these Sunday sports spectaculars. There’s something different about being there, feeling the beer spilled down your back by the guy above you, hearing the peanut shells crunch under your feet. Seeing the game in person is so much different from watching it on TV. The cameras only follow the ball; they only capture about a third of the action. Seeing the whole field, the whole game: that’s where it’s at.
Watching the game as a fan is much different than playing it. Monday through Thursday, I’m at practice. Friday is gameday. But Sunday is my day to relax and just take it in. To watch the pure perfection, or imperfection, as the 49ers teams of late have had, from the outside in reminds why I play the game. It’s like Martin Scorsese watching a movie or Yo Yo Ma listening to music. I feel reinvigorated to play my game every time I watch theirs. Football is an art and an expression of what makes America great. We are the fans. For six months, which always go so quickly, we live and breathe America’s Game. We live and die with our teams. We spend hours watching documentaries about Lombardi Trophies now weighted down with dust, and seasons covered over by new players and more recent games. The perseverance and dedication that we give to our teams are emblematic of the American spirit. Is Tom Brady George Washington? Maybe not, but they’re both Patriots.
The community of Niners Faithful that sits in section 52, rows six, seven and eight is bonded by years of celebration followed by years of sadness. We have been sitting with this crazy crowd since 1985, the first year my Dad got the tickets. I wasn’t even born yet, and neither were my brother and sister, for that matter. But I know Mary Ann and her husband, who sit in row 8, brought the chocolate chip cookies to the games because they still do. Mike is always there with his son. But I have no idea what they do on the other six days of the week. Monday through Saturday they are strangers. But for eight Sundays a year, we’re family. <<<