Saturday, November 13, 2004

Our Hero

Posted by Hello CU WR Ron Monteilh runs in a 64-yard pass to win the game in the last five seconds

Posted by Hello Fans storm the field to congratulate him

All right, I'm not really a big football fan, but I enjoy a good game as much as anyone. By chance today I ended up at the CU game, and it turned out to be one of the team's biggest games in years.

"I don't remember being part of a team that won one like this," said embattled Buffs coach Gary Barnett, according to the AP, who ranked the victory up there with Colorado's 62-36 thrashing of Nebraska three years ago.

This fall, I've had a knack of ending up in the right place during some major sports happenings. Specifically, I was in New York City when the Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox. Then I was in New England during the entire week that the Sox finally won the World Series.

Even though I'm not really a Sox fan or part of that community (really I'm more of a Cards fan by genetic and geographic disposition), it was cool to experience Sox fandom at the best time in modern history. Sports teams bring communities together and there's something about being a part of that energy that feels comforting, fulfilling.

Boulder is a relatively smallish town, and what I love about it is that most people who live here do so by choice. They are usually passionate about this place. They love -- and I mean really love -- the mountains, the lifestyle and all the activities that come along with living nestled up to the Rockies. On Friday night I went to Warren Miller's 1001th extreme ski movie, Impact. The Boulder Theatre--an old, funky place right off the Pearl Street mall--was packed with fans.

Honestly, Warren Miller has been making these ski films since 1949. I saw several of them way back in high school. They don't consist of much more than some seriously whacked-out skiing set to music. On Friday, I greeted almost every new scene with a "holy s&%t," and I felt a little nauseous watching people stand at the tops of mountains, peering down steep cliffs, preparing to shush on down.

Sitting next to me were a group of nine-year-olds. Not too far away were their parents. Everyone from college kids to yuppies to ski bums (OK, these are all sort of the same people) filled the hall, cheering wildly. They all just wanted to see some good skiing and get psyched to hit the hill themselves. That crazy love of skiing, just strapping on boards and going downhill in the snow, is surprisingly addictive.

Hometown football is the same. Saturday's game was an epic football battle, with the score going back and forth and back and forth until CU finally wrapped it up in the last five seconds with a perfectly thrown pass. Thousands of people came together to cheer their warriors on. I didn't even know what CU's record was going into the game, but I was on my feet with everyone else in the fourth quarter. The marching band played, and the cheerleaders danced. Students stood shirtless in freezing weather and screamed wildly for their team. Those same students stormed the field to congratulate the young players, taking down the goalposts in the process.

On most levels, it was just a stupid football game. But on a larger level, a football game is a unifying event. And feeling connected is important, more important than I think people realize. It's one big reason I came back to Boulder, my home town. I wanted to feel, once again, that I was part of a community united by passion and love. Growing up here, I felt that people were involved in their lives -- their entire lives -- and they lived them with balance. I didn't know anyone consumed by work. What's more, I didn't know anyone who was consumed by fear of losing that work, and therefore working all the more, chasing their tails in an endless cycle. I don't remember being surrounded by people who lived in fear; I remember being surrounded by people who were engaged. And I felt like a solid part of it all.

It's not the event that connects us that's important--whether it be football or skiing, an election or a wedding--but the reminder that we are all connected.

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