10 things I love about Boston
By Robin Abrahams
5. The year the Sox won the Series
I hate sports. I have some good reasons for hating sports (or at least the culture of sports in modern America) and some stupid, prejudiced reasons for hating sports. But the point is, I hate sports, and I probably always will.
Except in October 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series.
I mean, you just couldn't hate sports then, could you? At the time I was a professor at Emmanuel College, which may not be the most illustrious institute of higher learning in Boston but which was the very best that fall, because it is the very closest to Fenway Park. I don't think the administrators were all that happy during those hectic days--they were losing sleep, I'm sure, hoping that it wouldn't be one of our students caught up in the inevitable mob scenes, with tragic results.
Because mob psychology is dangerous, and the ability of team sports to unleash it is one of the better reasons I have for, as noted, hating sports. But that fall I saw the brighter side of the mob. We all came to school in Sox gear those days, or at least in red, with circles under our eyes. We pretended to teach, and they pretended to learn. But there wasn't much teaching or learning going on--and there wasn't much "we" and "they," either. Not at my school. We weren't teachers and students, we were all just Bostonians rooting for our crazy cavemen. (Except for that bitter theology professor from New York who skulked around like Snape all semester, but his misery just made it all the sweeter for the rest of us.)
Mob psychology can be dangerous. It can lead to lynching, to gang rape, to a multitude of horrors. But it is part of human nature, and it can, at times, dissolve barriers like professor and student, or white and black, or Back Bay and Roxbury. Becoming part of the mob can destroy our humanity. And yet that magical fall, being part of the mob seemed to restore it. To allow us to let down our guard, our social roles, and join together in happiness and exhaustion.