Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giants fever

The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series for the first time since they came to San Francisco and only the second time since 1954, when they were still the New York Giants. 

Almost everyone in the Bay Area caught “Giants fever” over the past few weeks.  People dyed their hair orange, total strangers greeted each other with “Go Giants” and conversations were struck up by BART riders, people standing in line at the bank and at the grocery check-out stand about the Giants. Schools and offices emptied out for the parade yesterday down Market St, and the day became a holiday by the sheer exuberance of the fans.

I was in a yoga class while the last game was happening.  Our class is fairly sedate. People move from pose to pose following our teacher’s instructions, which are delivered in a soft mellifluous voice.  There are no questions, and it is really not a bunch that grunts or sighs with effort, so the class is very quiet.

This class was every so often filled with the sound of shouting as the Giants scored once, then twice, then again.  Somewhere between Downward Dog and Warrior Pose, the teacher said, “I think the Giants are winning.”  We all laughed (softly) as she had read all our thoughts.  With inward cheers, we moved into Shoulder Stand. 

I am not much of a baseball fan or really much of a sports fan.  I have tried to be because I like being caught up in excitement and rooting for something or someone to win, and I like anything that cheers people up so much, and I like things that appeal to all kinds of people.  The World Cup, the Super Bowl, the Tour De France, all have these huge followings and people seem to suspend their other judgments of each other as they discuss teams and players.  I like those things, but the extent of my contribution to the conversation is usually, “How about that game?”  Then I nod sagely as if I understand all the commentary that generally follows.  God forbid I ever talk to someone more ignorant than me and have to face the question, “What game?”

Contrast Monday night’s World Series win with Tuesday night’s election results.  Where I was there was no cheering, no crowds in the streets.  There were some victories, to be sure, but overall, state by state and town by town, the country seemed to take another giant step in the wrong direction. 

Of course during the Obama campaign and for awhile afterwards, many of us had the excitement generally reserved for sports victories.  And Giants fever will soon be replaced by other concerns or excitements.  People want to be excited and to be transported beyond ourselves.  Many of us love having an excuse to smile at strangers and to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.  Our task as commoners remains to find a way to generate and then maintain that kind of excitement for questions of the common good.

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