Never in my life have I attended a sporting event where I was a raging fan of the visiting team--until today. My dad came out for a short jaunt to Washington so we would have the pleasure of attending the Seahawks/Bengals game together. This was intended to be an early birthday present, and I couldn't possibly think of a better gift. We are die-hard Cincinnati Bengals fans. No bandwagon-jumping, fair-weather fans here; we're born and bred Ohioans, and we wear our tiger stripes with pride. There is something particularly appealing to my nature in being a follower of the Bengals. We're hardened with cynicism by our many humiliating past defeats, but there is still an element of hope present, and when they are playing competitively (as they have the last couple seasons), there is magic there that feels like the first rays of sun penetrating a dense raincloud.
I will admit that there is always something anxiety-inducing about being out-numbered in any situation, and being one of relatively few specks of orange in a sea of blue was downright terrifying. But that didn't mean that I'd lost the ability to be an asshole, because let's face it--when you are in such a scenario, being an asshole is the only line of defense you have. My exhausted vocal cords are testament to this. There were so many occasions where I felt like I was the only person in the stadium cheering, and the silence eventually became my best friend. I knew when things got quiet, it was good news not only for my eardrums, but also for my team.
Granted we took our share of ribbing. Seattle fans are nothing if not boisterous about their undying love for their team. The sauntering strut of a few dozen people telling us to go home, even though we were at that point down by merely 2 points, was a little ridiculous, but we took it in stride. For the most part, the Seahawks fans were magnanimous. They are certainly more friendly than Steelers fans, anyway.
Unfortunately, the Bengals made a few too many mistakes, and as such they didn't walk away from this game victors. They didn't hand it over too easily to the Seahawks though. Seattle had to work hard for that 3-point win, and the game was a nail-biter of classic proportions. So few sporting events are ever so exciting, and I felt incredibly privileged to have been there to witness it in person, to feel the sway of a crowd so large that it operated like a single organism, with we the visitors, the parasites, attaching ourselves like remoras to a great white shark.
And it was particularly fantastic to share that experience with my best friend, my dad. I wouldn't have wanted to face that crowd with anyone else.