I can’t believe I forgot this one. This one comes to us by, who else, Nike, circa 2005 (or at least post the 2004 World Series title). In the small picture, its quite fitting that I dug through my sports memory bank to find this gem given the impact the Red Sox just had on my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. But really, this commercial stands the test of time and fan-dom. During my sports formative years I never developed a love/hate relationship with the Red Sox or Yankees more than I had for any other team that wasn’t the Dodgers. In fact, this policy has been applied universally in my approach to the sports landscape. Its better to love your own fanship than despise someone else’s (and if only the 2012 GOP felt the same way about Governor Romney, but alas). DISCLAIMER: I may or may not have succumbed to violating this stance at particular times in regards to the following organizations: the New England Patriots, the San Francisco Giants, USC, and Al Qaeda.
So, going into this treatsie of sports advertising, I admit to having no strong emotional advance, either way, regarding the Boston Red Sox. Instead, the commercial did, and still does, invoke a catharsis that only the devoted of devoted sports fans could experience. In fact, one every sports fan should experience. The commercial isn’t about shoes or the Red Sox or the multitude of fashion trends that afflicted (?) baseball spectators over the decades. To me its not even about the shared bond that runs so deep between a fan and his team, this weird social construction that compels so many men and women to invest (too) much of their time and energy. Hell, its not even about Major League Baseball. No, instead its about a father and son playing catch. That’s it. For some reason that’s the only image or metaphorical connection the commercial arouses. I know that for years I’ve shared the highs and lows of every sports moment with my father and will continue to do so for seasons to come. We’ll analyze contracts, statistics, player movement; we’ll sit at games and umpire every strike, every first down; we’ll argue about who should be the starting center for the Lakers and the salary cap should be installed or not. Those experiences are the most obvious associations derived from this commercial. Yet for me, it all really comes back to sunny afternoons tossing a baseball in the backyard.
Its safe to say life offers few euphoric moments akin to your team winning a championship. I’ve often thought, if the sports gods allowed me one pinnacle sports moment for my life, the most obvious followup question would be which of my teams’ title would that moment be? And while the sports gods know I’ve spent (wasted?) hours upon hours trying to rationalize the sport and team, I’ve really been asking the wrong question to their prompt all along. Because while flags may or may not fly forever, a backyard toss with dad always will.