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What was up with the cell-phone light display?

Best we can tell it was a spontaneous display.

Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids: Photos
Fans turned on their cell phone flashlights in the 69th minute of the Western Conference Final in Seattle.
Mike Russell Foto

Roughly the time when Erik Friberg left the field to be replaced by Brad Evans, fans throughout the stadium started turning their cell phone flashlights on and pointed them towards the field. The stands, mostly wet with splotches of green ponchos, took on a little sparkle, almost as if covered in holiday lights.

Assigning meaning to the people that started this viral sensation would be incredibly naive. It would probably be wrong. Yes, one could say that it started because Erik “Freebird” Friberg was leaving the pitch. But these events have started popping up in the world of sports, and not necessarily with meaning. Like “the Wave” the origin story will be contested.

The first time we saw this particular phenomenon in Seattle was during last weekend’s University of Washington football game.

In world soccer, it already popped up in Anfield Emirates.

A reader notes that Texas A&M started this last season. What we know for certain is that the front office had nothing to do with it and were as amused as everyone else when it started.

But now, it is ours, even if just once, or maybe more often. It is a thing that happened, and clearly many thousands enjoyed it enough to participate. Our Twitter timeline was also peppered with people asking about it.

There are not many spontaneous traditions that grew out from non-supporters sections throughout the stadium. This may even be the first. If it gets repeated, it is a singular moment of joy that you can tell a story about in the future.

“I was there when...”

Sure, it may not be a great story. It is an event without meaning beyond joining together as a community doing a tiny thing for the mere pleasure of the moment. Sometimes that is enough. Sometimes that is what we need.

Together, we shone some light on the field of play. Together, we watched a game. Together, we are Sounders.

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