Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whose Giants?

I have a confession to make.

I’m not a Giants fan.

I have nothing against them, mind you. I just don’t watch or follow them. So now that they’re World Series champions, I can’t suddenly claim a loyalty I never had just to share in the excitement of my town.

Sad, because I remember the first year I was here, when the Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl. With my friends, I watched the game and then we all spilled out into the streets, joining our neighbors, and headed over to Jack London Square, where I’d never been despite living not far away in South Berkeley. It was a great party.

I see my coworkers in their orange and black, brandishing Giants banners and huge smiles. I see my neighbors standing on trucks and screaming in joy.

“We Won!” they say.

“Who is we?” I respond in my head. I had nothing to do with it. They would have won with or without me. The last time I bought a ticket was around eight years ago when my nephew came to visit. The only time I was at the ballpark this season was to protest the Arizona Diamondbacks over SB1070.

They won because a bunch of guys not from San Francisco, hired and coached by guys not from San Francisco (though to be fair, CEO Bill Newkom did grow up nearby) got paid a lot of money to throw and hit well and they did it.

So what does San Francisco get out of it? Does a kid from San Francisco have a better chance of becoming a Giant than a kid from Georgia or Colombia? Clearly not. Will being the home of the World Series Champions put a dent in San Francisco’s chronic homelessness epidemic? Obviously not. Will San Francisco voters carry their good mood into the voting booths and defeat the initiative to punish people for being homeless by making it a crime to sit or lie down on the sidewalk? I can cherish that faint hope, but I wouldn’t take it to the bank (or the polls).

Did they even build their own stadium? Of course not. They got San Francisco taxpayers to cough up for it by threatening to move out of town. Good role models for loyalty.

Yet none of this changes the fact that local sports teams fulfill people’s deep desire to belong, to have in Carson McCullers’ immortal words, “the we of me.” That desire to belong, to be one with the people around us, is something I share, and something to be cherished. It’s what at times makes people engage in those random acts of kindness and generosity that make me slightly believe in the goodness of human nature. I just wish we could find it in something more real and less fleeting than a sports championship we did nothing to earn.

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