Fans of every team claim to be the best. They claim to be a family and they claim to have the biggest following of any group of sports fans. We all know that they can’t all be correct.
As evidenced by the “remote” part of the title of this column, I am not in Cleveland anymore. Being in Chicago and following a team whose home is not in Chicago (nor same conference, even) is not the easiest thing in the world: I tried watching the Cavaliers as often as I could, but it proved very difficult. Similarly, I would have been relegated to only receiving Tribe games when they were in town were it not for a shared MLB.tv password to keep me sane.
But the Browns are different.
I live in Wrigleyville, which is really just a strip of bars near Wrigley Field (which is about a block away from me). These bars have all kinds of team alliances – Oregon Ducks, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa, Nebraska, Cleveland, Vikings, Penn State, etc. Yet within one block of each other, there are two Cleveland Browns bars.
Furthermore, in a one-mile radius from my apartment, there are five bars that literally fly a Browns flag. That’s more than any other team I’ve counted in Chicago, and I’ve actually been looking.
We get together on Sundays at any of these establishments and we bond. We introduce friends and we become their friends. The first two Browns games I experienced in Chicago were amazing; the first one featured me plunking down at a table with strangers and proceeding to watch the entire game with them – turns out they were from about six miles from my home. And week two was when I met up with a friend of a friend (whom I’d never met) and we became game-watching buddies. I’d been given his number by a dear friend and we now meet up most Sundays to watch our beloved squad of mongoloids.
But is it beyond the simple fact that we gather in a bar because we’re willing to wake up before noon?
I say yes, and I say it for this reason: a very close friend of mine is trotting the globe, seeing basically everything she can possibly see. I was tipped off to an app that allows users to text internationally, so I asked for her whereabouts last Sunday, late-afternoon. She was in Paris…watching the Browns game with a bunch of guys who had gone to St. Ignatius.
Again, I’m not saying that there isn’t a place in Paris where, say, Green Bay Packers fans congregate to watch their games, but I am saying that I know one person who was in Paris last Sunday. And that person was doing the same thing I was, only 8,000 miles away. Whether or not she knew it or felt it, we bonded in that moment.
Sports gives us a community to share with. It’s not a sharing in the show-and-tell sense of elementary school (even though I’d love to show all you guys this huge worm I found last night) but rather to share something intangible. Sharing emotion with someone is what we humans strive for; it’s the same thing that makes us love our dogs – that brief moment when we feel like we’re sharing a moment that goes beyond words.
I love you all. Go Browns.