It was tough, but I did it!
Last Saturday I pulled out a win against Ohio State, defying the odds and 100,000 crazed red-clad fans who desperately wanted me to lose so their team could maintain or improve on it's #3 in the nation ranking.
Oh, guess I also need to give some credit to the University of Oregon football team. They were the ones who took the field against Ohio State.
But the way I felt after the game, I was right there with them -- a 72 year old guy who didn't even play football in high school, yet shared in the Ducks' glory.
Such is the magic of tribalism, a word I usually use in connection with political affiliations, as in "I'm a proud member of the progressive tribe."
After watching the Oregon-Ohio State game, going through the usual stages of football-viewing "death" when the team you want to win is engaged in a back-and-forth battle that came down to a few key plays -- worry, hope, excitement, despair, impending doom, relief, ecstasy -- I felt absolutely amazing.
It was as if I'd won the game. I floated through the rest of my day on a cloud of exultation. I'd identified so strongly with the Oregon football team that their amazing victory was my amazing victory.
I replayed in my mind the plays that sealed the win. An interception. A quarterback sack. As I was going to sleep that night, those images appeared in my psyche as fond memories of what the Ducks and I had been able to accomplish.
Sure, the Oregon players were the ones in the Ohio State stadium, while I was the one sitting on my butt in a comfortable chair, watching the game with a remote in my hand. However, the power of football tribalism is so strong, I felt like part of the team.
Which means I'm now #4 in the country, according to a couple of polls. Pretty damn good, but now I'd like to be #1. Just need to get that pesky Alabama out of the way.
Naturally there's a downside to my identification with the Oregon Ducks. If the team goes into a tailspin, my current ecstasy will turn into agony.
I have a clue as to what that would feel like: the oh-so-sad faces of the Ohio State fans as the final seconds ticked off.