Celebrating a late Father’s day gift last night, we walked to Fenway Park and cheered on a Red Sox vs. Miami Marlins victory.
It was magic. (This from a non-sports person!) Anyone who knows me can tell you I know little about U.S sports culture, but in recent years I have enjoyed some sports events, seeing them as small entries into another world, another culture. I have ceased waxing wise about their faults and begun seeing them as places of learning and enjoyment. And Fenway is nothing if it is not going into another world. Fenway is a cultural icon.
From Fenway Franks, those hotdogs that anywhere else would not taste as good, to fans toting beer in small plastic cups, to “the wave”, to Grand Slams, to singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of our lungs, it is, and was, a cross-cultural experience.
I always imagined that “the wave” was unique to the U.S but found that is not true. While there are arguments about where and how it originated, it is a standard part of sports spectator behavior worldwide. It is usually set into motion by a dozen or so fans and consists of standing, raising your arms to the sky and sitting immediately afterward. The motion carries forward in a clockwise direction and in a large crowd it is an amazing site to see “the wave” move around a stadium in full force.
But last night we observed something curious. “The wave” was going strong around the stadium, starting in bleacher 39 and moving forward with strength – until it reached the box people, the rich people. And there is where it faltered almost ready to die. It was as if “the wave” was beneath them, as though we, the commoners, were the ones low enough to carry the motion.
Why do you think this is? Were they so busy watching the game that they didn’t see “the wave”? I don’t think so. I think it’s about security and image. And if there was doubt before, after last night all doubt is gone – rich people don’t have as much fun as those with less. Box seats, season tickets and a bank account to match and yet there is not enough security to break out of a mold and do “the wave”? It sounds like a type of prison.
With money comes an image, an image that is carefully cultivated and groomed. It is dependent on the stock market, interest rates and who you know. And evidently that image doesn’t include “the wave”. What do you think?