Before I get into this, let me just start by saying that I hate Hank Steinbrenner . I think he embarrasses himself, shames the Yankees, and humiliates fans. He’s like a belligerent uncle, cornering nieces and nephews at a family barbecue and screaming at them to study accounting because "there’s good *hiccup* money in it, you idiots." You can go to hell, you laughable, craggy-faced bastard. Go to hell.
Whew, glad I got that out of my system.
Anyway, down to business. It’s a great day for a Boston Marathon . The sun is just starting to crack the cloud cover, the temperature is around fifty degrees and the elite runners are already. I was going to talk about the marathon last year, but I was derailed by a string of horribly unfair injuries to the Yankees pitching staff . This year, the only thing wrong with the Bombers is the loud mouthed ownership, so I can go about my duties unhindered.
I lived on Commonwealth Avenue during my final two years of college . As a junior, I watched it from a second floor apartment just past Heartbreak Hill, and as a senior I kept an eye on it as I was walking back to campus from a job interview downtown. The atmosphere along the marathon route is a very strange kind of electric. Everyone is cheering, more or less nonstop, for the entire duration of the race. The moment runners get into view, hoots and hollers go up and stay up. Once the main packs start passing, there is a long, sustained cheer that just doesn’t let up. Sure, people will take a break to enjoy a sausage or drink some oddly non-clear liquid from a water bottle, but there’s this feeling in the crowd that most of them need to be cheering at any given point. There’s an unspoken agreement between the throngs that line the road; the runners are doing the hart part, so we have to at least do the easy part.
Boston is paradise for a sports fan. You can join the Mardi Gras-esque party crowds for the 81 Red Sox home games per year. You can enjoy the hats and gloves all day tailgate at Gillette Stadium. You can see the entire population of Western Mass. at a Bruins game and all of the obscenely knowledgeable homers at a Celtics game. Something for everybody, really. Four distinct crowds, four distinct vibes. But the Marathon is so unique because it brings together so many things. It combines the picnic feel of an afternoon in Foxboro with the pastoral relaxation of a PawSox game. You get the lamp-lighting surges of joy, and the moments where the crowd wills their team to make a hard stand. If you want to research fan behavior, go see a Boston Marathon. You’ll get everything good about sport in one stop.
Enjoy race day, everyone. Don’t stop cheering. They’re not going to stop running.