Watching the Cubs play in the games leading to the World Series became a family bonding event. I’m sure it was for many others as well. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that a teaching moment surfaced.
I suppose what made the experience unique for us is that sports are not my family’s passion. Neither our abilities nor our interests lean in the direction of athletics (oh, but we’ve tried.) That’s not to say I haven’t rooted for specific teams. During football playoffs, I become a Bear’s fan with the rest of my city. The energy feeds into the somewhat routine moments of my cold weather days. And who doesn’t enjoy a feast of fattening snacks in the name of football watching (or, for me, socializing?) I suppose that would make me a fair weather fan. I’m OK with that.
However growing up in the Chicago burbs, my kids are well aware of fan frenzy for our teams. So, them, like my husband and I, join in the excitement when one of our local teams is edging toward a championship.
Actually, the Cubs hold about the only long term sports spot in our hearts (except for my oldest son who has chosen to rebel as a Sox fan). Furthermore, we have actually attended Cubs’ games (my son included)! In this age of digital entertainment and season of discontent, gathering together at a baseball game for the sake of encouragement is refreshing. It’s a tradition that spans through decades of wars, national catastrophes, numerous presidents. One community-many generations-united for the sole purpose of rooting on the home team. We may not know the players personally-but “they” are “ours.”
For fans, disappointments and euphoria intermingle throughout the season….and the years. Yet, loyalty remains. We believe in them. “They” are part of “us.”
Last Wednesday night, in our homage to the home team, our family cozied up to watch the World Series. Together we united in celebrating great plays and clenched our teeth in the 7th inning.
They have to win. It’s been 108 years. ONE HUNDRED. EIGHT. YEARS.
And as the drama unfolded throughout the added innings and rain delays, I felt a desperate wish for them that my usual non sports engaging heart has felt. ever. Could they really win?
Then it happened! Really! The Cubs clinched a title that had eluded them for a century. To see them win brought tears.
You see, besides the obvious joy experienced by exerting skill at the highest level, they kept their eyes on a vision. A collective vision. One that former players didn’t live to see. One that garnered mocking from others-even fans.
That action resonated with me. Inspired me. And made me think about my kids.
They are growing up in a culture of rapid speed gratification and increasing self focus. Waiting is not embraced. Community engagement toward a vision is a somewhat foreign concept. Don’t like what’s on tv? Choose one of the million other channels. Don’t want to wait in line at the amusement park? By a flash pass. Can’t afford a wanted item? Charge it and pay later. Don’t like what someone says on your Instagram? Block them.
As I was reflecting on Thursday morning about idea that my kids could learn something from the Cubs, my daughter, as if on cue, remarked,“Why would anyone continue to follow a team that never wins?”
My own child’s bemoaning question had confirmed my thoughts.
Once upon a time, loyalty and patience were valued. People are not disposable. Dare I say teams are included. Life is complicated and giving up on relationships and tasks when we are not receiving the fulfillment of immediate gratification robs us of participating in the whole narrative . Most of the time, the end result is sweeter than expected. That includes the shaping of our character.
How did the Israelites react to hardships along their long journey to the promised land? What act did Abraham resort to when God seemingly failed to fulfill the vision originally spoken to him? Humans have always found it difficult to keep focused on the bigger picture. Waiting is hard work when the outcome is fixed to our expectations. Yet, faith is believing in something that may exceed our expectations-in ways that only God can help us see.
Who knew a baseball game would prove to be such a powerful venue for engaging as a family? We will remember that week as we cheered together, Joked during commercials. And celebrated with the fans around the country with whom we shared a common vision. No electronic device or other technology could instantly give us the result we desired.
And that’s really the point- We don’t always have to be in control. Sometimes, life demands that we let go and live in the uncertainty while maintaining hope.
So while we can focus on the thrill of the win, perhaps there’s a deeper lesson that lies within.