49ers

The National Football Team in San Francisco is the 49ers, named after the hardy souls who poured into California from "back East" in 1849, when California became a state. This was mostly gold miners, but also businessmen of various sorts, and of course writers like Mark Twain looking for adventure.

Tonight the 49ers were playing the New Orleans Saints, a team named for the fact that New Orleans is one of the most Catholic cities in the U.S., besides perhaps Boston. Anyhow, as the saying goes in sports talk, the 49ers "pulled it out", which means they won the game in the final few minutes. And in this case, it was literally the final minute. With 2 minutes on the clock, New Orleans scored a touchdown to pull ahead, and Dave (with whom I watched the final quarter of the game as I was picking up Palmer) walked out of the room, pretty sure the whole thing was over and the team he was rooting for would loose. But they didn't. Once the 49ers got the ball back, a long run by one runningback with less than 1 minute left put them within striking distance of the end zone (i.e., within their own 50), but after a few missed plays, they were down to 14 seconds at the 25 yard line or so. I thought for sure they would go for a field goal and then try to win in overtime, but instead they ran one more pass action play, and oh my god it was amazing. The quarterback threw the ball to his receiver, who was right on the edge of the end zone, with a Saints defender to his right and left and straight behind him. But he caught the ball just at the right second, and fell into the end zone. Touchdown! It was incredible.

Of course I was already ushering Palmer out the door, having stayed longer than I meant to and getting hungry. So we headed over to a Mexican place, where everyone was talking about the game. And when we were done eating, we went to the grocery store, where I got into a long conversation with the check out guy about the game. He said the store had been completely empty that Saturday afternoon while the game was on.

So, well, it doesn't happen all that often, but today I actually felt part of something one could call a community, here in the sprawling Bay Area, thanks to some remarkable football playing. It was a feeling I used to get often in Iceland, every time I drove past the soccer field in Sandgerði actually, and could hear the people yelling out "Áfram!", and remembering doing the same many times myself.

And the question that bobbles in my head like a bad pass floated in again: On a planet with 7 billion people, does it make more sense to live with only 350,000 of them, (.005%) or with 35 million of them (.5%)?

I really have no idea.

Comments

William said…
Boy, if this doctorate you're getting doesn't pay enough you might consider sportscasting! Wow! It was like I was there!

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