As far back as I can remember, my grandfather would sit at the dining room table and listen to the Detroit Tigers play baseball on his transistor radio. If memory serves, the first question anyone would ask my grandfather upon entering the house was, “How are the Tigers doing?”
To my child’s mind, his reply never seemed to be positive and I often wondered why he maintained such a loyalty to an often losing team?
Looking back, I don’t believe it was the team as a whole that my grandfather felt so strongly about…it was individual team players…and could he ever name them. It made a strong impression on me that anyone could recite the players’ names, where they came from, how much the Tigers’ “bought them for,” (as well as their stats)…wow. What breeds this kind of staunch following power?
Authors Chip and Dan Heath term such devotedness as, “Honoring the Game.”
The Heath’s write… “People care about sports, they care about the Game. It’s a way of making the point that the Game and its integrity are larger than the individual participants. Honoring the Game is a kind of sports patriotism. It implies that you owe your sport basic respect.
And Honoring the Game also works for people other than players. It reminds anyone that sports is a civic institution. It’s unseemly to mess with an institution. It’s dishonorable.”
The implication here is that despite a garden variety of people groups that follow a sports team…there exists a spoken/unspoken code about demonstrating respect on/off the field.
Once I read this, I got excited. For the first time in my life, I’m eager to watch the Tigers play a game (and observe the crowd as they act/react.)
Here’s hoping I can see this principle “in play” today.