There is something about the charisma of the crowd. Something in the roar of a thousand people, a hundred people, even 10 people, if they are like-minded, that is so wonderfully seductive.
In dark moments, this is known as “mob mentality,” and it can cause people to do and say terrible things that they might otherwise not even consider doing or saying.
But the collective excitement of a crowd can be a beautiful thing to experience, especially in something that is usually as innocent, as positive even, as the watching of a game.
I was brought up in a decidedly non-sport-watching, non-sport-supporting family. Until I married Mr B, I’d never so much as seen an AFL game played. But I married into a family that had been supporting the one team for four generations. Four generations! And I couldn’t help but be drawn into the romance of their loyalty. Year after year, week after week, they would take the back-then three hour drive to Melbourne, and sit outside in the cold and rain to watch their team… lose.
Their team made it to the Grand Final back in the 1960s, but then they lost again. That was almost a very good day for Mr B’s father. For the rest of his life, he said, “I will live to see them make it to another Grand Final.” But his team’s losses outlived him.
And still Mr B and his family supported their team. Year after year, week after week.
So when I married Mr B and we moved to Melbourne, I took up supporting that team, for him. And against all expectations, I found I enjoyed it. I couldn’t help admiring the surprising athleticism, the strange rules (apparently based on Gaelic football), and most of all, the historic and unbending joy of just about everyone in Melbourne when it comes to this game. Crowd charisma.
On the weekend, against all possible odds, our team made it to the Grand Final again, at last. Friends gathered at our house to watch it with us, the children decorated the house with streamers and balloons and chalk messages, and I made the best kind of the worst kind of junk food: hot dogs and party pies and french fries and cup cakes.
I cheered myself hoarse with the rest of them, swept up in the excitement of cheering on a team that had waited more than sixty years for a win.
Oh, and they won!