From Middle-Deck Seats

by Chris

Something happened on the middle-deck of Lincoln Financial Field, the Linc, home stadium of the Philadelphia Eagles (3 wins, 2 losses prior to the game), as they took the field against the Detroit Lions (3 losses, 1 win) and everyone was waiting for the kicker to start forward. I noticed, through gaps in the massive concrete bleachers, far-off trees and low buildings, small, still, and indifferent to the game. Above the stadium’s rim drifted wispy cirrus clouds, cotton on cobalt.

The kicker sent the ball flying. Everyone’s eyes followed it down to the return man, but mine stayed in the sky, trained on the residual smoke from the fireworks that went off at the kick. The smoke outsailed the cirrus clouds, passing in front of them, floating on, and vanishing mid-flight into blue. The sun warmed my skin. The breeze rippled my hair. It was an empyrean fall day.

Decked out in plastic armor, uniforms colored bright, the offense and defense came on, and for now I was unallied to either team. The rhythm of the sun and the clouds reduced the spectacle before me to sport. Names on the backs of jerseys were meaningless. Statistics–on the scoreboard, from the PA announcer–were mere history: a record of past bodily movements and counter-movements. I became aware that the same tepid fall sun had seen past sporting events, unalike in their rules and motions but alike underneath. A nearby woman shouted, “Woop. Woooooooop. Let’s go birds,” and she could very well have been, in this space where the timeline had rolled up, cheering chariots as they orbited the Circus Maximus.

Wins, losses, names, and numbers–these are small. What matters is the struggle, the kinetic beauty of it, and the story behind the movements, the forms and narratives that twist and turn as in novels, epics, and routine life.

Later, when the Eagles scored on a two-yard pass to the running back, the frenzy of the occasion re-wrapped itself around me. I shouted along with the lady and sang the home team’s fight song. When the Eagles blew the lead and the game, I sulked out with the silent crowd. The sun had arced low but still felt warm, and I found myself looking forward, the bitter taste gone, to next Sunday.