The Baltimore Colts were William & Pop Gildea's mutual love. William was a boy when his father introduced him to the team, when they were still wearing the green jersey's from their days in Miami as the Seahawks. When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore is William Gildea's tribute to his father & the team they didn't just root for, but shared a community with back in the days when professional football players were regular joe's. Father & Son bonded over the games at Memorial Stadium and in front of the family television set, spending endless hours recounting great plays and memories that children not yet born would relive through their telling.
I suppose as children we tend to fall for a team the way we fall for a girl when we get a little older. There's an initial introduction by a loved one and then in time a passion is revealed through devotion and care. We look out for their better interests and tell others about the exciting moments we share together. Your team, like a significant other, is at times a joy & occasionally they drive you insane. Nevertheless, the relationship is fulfilling and makes your life more enjoyable than if she or they weren't around.
My own love affair with the team in red & white pin stripes began as a six-year-old, baseball-card-collecting, momma's boy with a Father and Grandma that watched their games religiously. I attended my first game back in September of 1987 when the Phillies played the Mets and we sat in the upper deck of Veteran Stadium. Damn it was cold! But anyway ever since, I've been a devout Phillies fan. I hated seeing Harry go. Games just haven't been the same since 'Harry the K' passed, but I was very glad the Phils captured their second title in '08 before 'the voice' relocated to heaven early next season.
Our relationships with our sports teams become as important as the ones with actual people in our lives. Some of us even spend a little too much time on the games and teams. It's good to have a hobby, but when it becomes an obsession you really should re-evaluate the situation.
I think the most that can be derived from cheering on your team is a sense of community. William Gildea spoke of this in his book. A large group of people from varying backgrounds come together to root, root, root for the home team. The comraderery is especially gratifying when someone you love shares it with you. Sports are a Gathering Place. It's not just men & women playing kid's games. It's people falling in love while watching their team. It's Father's & Son's playing catch in the backyard. It's Mother's & Daughter's at the game together. One day you grow up and realize it was never about the team you were cheering for. It was all about the great times and memories you made with the ones you love, and the folks who wore the same colors as you that cheered so hard, cried, yelled at the tv, high-fived at the stadium and bled for the team, same as you. That's what Sports are all about.