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Boston Strong and the Aftermath of the Red Sox Victory

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A Red Sox Fan’s Reaction to the World Series Victory

Can a Baseball Team Fully Represent the Character of a City?

The Boston Red Sox win the 2013 World Series. Photo Courtesy of solecollector.comDoes a sports team effectively represent the area whose location it carries with its name? For instance, do the New York Yankees represent the spirit and character of New Yorkers? If so, that would mean that the team’s management recruits characters that fit in with the spirit of the city. These are thoughts that occur on the heels of The Boston Red Sox winning The World Series. I am an avid Red Sox fan and as I celebrate the victory, I do so with the knowledge that I am rooting for laundry: red and white is the color I have chosen to represent me best. But I also listen to sports radio and hear the countless assimilations that its anchors create between The Red Sox athletes and the character of Boston. They are all now Boston Strongest, following not only their World Series victory, but the Boston Bombings, which gave them a chance to serve as heroes for the troubled.

The reason I ask these questions is to try and dissect the way that we bunch together team spirit and the associated mood of its fans. Because of the Boston Marathon Bombings, the need for a hero was especially potent, making the need for “magic” become even more potent that it was in 2004. As I listen to the media coverage, I repeatedly hear mentions of “Boston Strong” as a representation of the vigor and toughness that characterizes the spirit of Boston. With its mention comes to my mind not images of baseball players grinding out at bats or Clay Bucholz returning from season-ending shoulder injury to pitch phenomenally, but ordinary citizens returning to work, despite their internal distress.

Following moments of horror the human character seeks comfort in rebuilding its faith. We needed to have “faith” just as we had in 2004, except now this faith was imbedded in one pitted against an actual evil, and not the mythological evil of the New York Yankees “Evil Empire.” More than ever before though, we place our faith inside of myth, where athletes become firefighters and supermen because as politics tilt further towards the warped, we require not real examples of men helping old ladies cross streets but the glorious hyper-drama of athletics, fast-paced and tied to our imaginations still. That is why I don’t blame Boston media for advocating the Red Sox as being an aide to the stressed mind of New England. And it worked out perfectly that since the bombing the Red Sox cruised their way into the playoffs and through the World Series. But the truth is that not everyone in Boston is a Red Sox fan. This truth has given me some pause when I hear “Boston Strong” as it is always at least in affiliation with the Boston Red Sox somehow.

Branding ourselves to a team is the kind of self-protective mechanism that animals use when they mark their territory, except in our case we are applying outside virtues to apply to our own existences; we do this by wearing the logo of “B” and in doing so brandishing ourselves as one with the mighty history of the team. In order for people to feel safe, they must feel linked to each other so that they can find reassurance that who they share the world with is there to help. A simple team-identification forms this bond: we both are Red Sox fans! But things have changed since the induction of terrorism as it has become the number one threat to our national security, and it hides behind brand logos; I guarantee you that one of the Boston Bombers owned a piece of Boston Red Sox apparel or had discussed the team while at college, further muddying the usage of a team to stand as a unifier for perseverance and decency.

As I listen to sports radio, specifically 105.5, I tune my ears to the voice of “The Nation” a club that identifies itself not exactly by where it lives by its affiliation with the Boston Red Sox. Daily, the hosts discuss the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon Bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The hosts refer to the two as maggots, a regrettable reduction of the character that compelled them to attack. Without a doubt, their actions were terrible, but if we explored their values, I guarantee you we would find some thread of decency that had misguidedly led them to attack, some version of heroism that had stemmed from their upbringings. My point here is not to forgive the two, nor assume that they were decent people, nor to say that the Boston Red Sox are a bunch of phonies for modeling as heroes, but to simply dig against the grain of the conversation, with hopes that we can explore the uncomfortable status of politics, and find a way to open the floor; only by opening the floor do we allow demons to come loose, and only then can we normalize them and stop being terrified of them, and giving them the power we have thus far.

Let’s stop intentionally walking the matter of how we discuss terrorism and instead give ourselves a chance to strike it out by throwing right down the middle of the plate, where which rests the actual anger at hand, both towards America and towards the people who hate it.

Ezra Prior is a Contributor to The Free George. Photo Courtesy of solecollector.com

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=18506

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