|We know, Coach. We know. (AP/Tony Ding)|
So, instead, if you'll permit me, I'd like to diverge to a treatise on the notions of communities of which you are simultaneously a part, and yet, are completely anonymous within. While I did not get to spend my Saturday at the Big House, I did get to spent last Sunday on the floor of Ford Field for U2. This is the fourth time I've seen U2 live, and I am still one of the younger people in the crowd, which is a nice feeling when you've entered your 40th year on earth. U2 was there to kick off the fall portion of the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree tour they've been on this year, which included for me, more than anything else, the knowledge that they would be playing the album the whole way through, which meant they would be playing "Red Hill Mining Town" live, something they had never done before this tour.
"Red Hill" is probably my favorite U2 song, with only "Bad" sitting right there in the conversation. So while I waited in anticipation of the moment, U2 opened their set with "Sunday, Bloody Sunday", "New Year's Day". "Bad", and "Pride (In the Name of Love)". The crowd was immediately into it, and I was struck that I was surrounded by people who were there to celebrate the band and their music and what it has meant to them. It was in varying degrees, but it was the root of what was going on. The most fascinating part of it was listening to the crowd sing along with songs they have known for over three decades, for the most part, hitting every syllable, every inflection, every moment in unison, even if Bono was playing around with the lyrics himself. So, there we were, surrounded on a football field by music, by emotion, by a community, where instead of being alone with everyone, you were with everyone, but on your own.
In this sense, it struck me that communities of fans are simultaneously familiar and unknowable. We have something in common with the person next to us, but the meaning for them may be completely different than that person than it is for you, or it might be very similar. You will be lumped together by other people who don't really know anything about you, and yet, you may not like the fan next to you. But we are united by that which you share, even if that which divides you is also frustrating. That is fandom.
Sports are not necessarily a form of art, but they inspire passion and evoke emotions in people. This builds communities of fans and followers. Nick Hornby explored this ground in a number of his early works, after all. This game was a mediocre album, maybe one or two solid singles, but lacking the depth to make it a classic. Let's hope next week is a return to form.