In the past two weeks, I have attended two sporting events that were on two different levels. On one hand, there was a college level women’s soccer game that I attended because I know people that go to that school. On the other, I attended the Detroit Lions’ professional football game against the Saints this past Sunday. While both events were different experiences, they were both enjoyable.
The soccer game that I attended was at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan. They were pitted against Madonna University’s squad and unfortunately lost 5-0. The first half was weird because there were two early goals by Madonna University, which made me believe this would be a long day for the Marygrove squad, but the rest of the first half was played very well by both teams and no goals were scored. Madonna did come close to scoring a few more times, but it ended up being a 2-0 lead for them at the end of the half. Well, things quickly got worse for the Marygrove squad, as 3 goals were netted by Madonna in the second half. The box score tells the whole story. Even though they lost, it was nice to see familiar faces out their competing hard.
The football game I attended was held at Ford Field, also in Detroit Michigan. Going into the game I believed that our defense (rated 1st overall as seen here), would stifle the Saints offense. Also, being that the Saints weren’t known for their defense, I figured our offense could take off. We quickly were down early due to a turnover that gave them great field position and they turned into a touchdown. I kept faith in them as the game progressed and eventually it came down to the final moments and with 5 minutes to go, we had the ball. Well, with just less than 4 minutes ago, our stud receiver Golden Tate scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass which he did most of the work.
The crowd went into frenzy and you could feel all of the momentum begin to shift. On the Saints’ next possession, their quarterback Drew Brees gifted us an early Christmas present and threw an interception with just over 3 minutes to go.
We scored on the ensuing possession and gained our first lead of the game. I was mind blown and felt like we had won the biggest game of the season. It was a massive win for us.
So, on my two sporting events, the home teams went 1-1. There were some distinct differences in each experience as well. The soccer game was lacking in the attendance that the Lions’ game had, which was probably because it was a college game and the college is a small school to begin with. Also, I think the smaller scale soccer game caused more of a personal experience because most people in attendance rooted for specific people as opposed to the whole stadium erupting at Ford Field no matter who did something great.
While those differences were evident, both events went through certain practices that A. Bartlett Giamatti references in “Take Time for Paradise”. I believe sports can be compared to religion and as Giamatti says, “it lies first in the intensity of devotion brought by the true believer or fan.” Both games had fans that were intense and believed that certain players should be living up to these expectations of being perfect every game. When it came down to it though, it was just the fans sharing in the experience of the game. On one hand, it was a bitter, losing experience and on the other it was a glorious, comeback victory. But even though there was a loss, there is still a connection to that team. There is a sort of bond that, though temporarily strained, will be forged again, as bitterness cannot break it as Giamatti puts it. At the beginning of each game, there was an introduction for the players and the crowds of both games went crazy, regardless of size. These are the sorts of rituals that sports share, which make experiences for fans more surreal and connected. All in all, if I could relive both events, I would, because those are memories that can’t be duplicated.