One of the downsides about covering a team that you root for is that you’re forced to create some emotional distance. Sure, I get mad when things aren’t going the Seattle Sounders’ way, and I experience a certain satisfaction when they do well, but I rarely get to experience the extremes that normally come with fandom.
When the Sounders beat Toronto FC to win their first MLS Cup in 2016, the closest thing to a celebration I got to experience was turning to Andrew Harvey — who was seated next to me in the BMO Field press box — and shaking hands. As great as it was to see the Sounders finally scale the mountaintop after seven years of covering them, I still had a job to do. While many fans got to head out to the bar and their hotel rooms to celebrate, I spent most of the night writing stories. If my roommates for the trip — Mike Russell and Spenser Davis — even shared a congratulatory beer, I don’t remember it.
I say all this not to complain but to simply explain...
The sports event that has made me cry most recently is almost certainly this video:
As gauche as it may be to say that about something you helped produce, it’s the honest truth. This video — a collection of fan-made videos from around the country — always gets me. I swear to you that I am currently fighting back tears after watching it for about the hundredth time. I love the variety, from footage in the stands to packed bars to people all by themselves at home. Just about every Sounders fan can see something that comes pretty darn close to capturing how they experienced this moment.
Some of the credit surely belongs to Jose Rivera. He did a great job of editing together game and interview footage with a ton of other stuff. The music is also perfectly selected, just enough to push you over the edge, but not so much that you really notice it.
But really, the credit for this video belongs to all of you. Not just the people who actually filmed it, but the people who lost their minds celebrating. The explosion felt a lot more pent up than seems reasonable considering the Sounders had only joined MLS eight years prior, but this did feel cathartic and I would even say more satisfying than if they’d won it earlier.
We had gotten to the point in Sounders history that it was fair to wonder if they’d ever get entirely over the hump. The Sounders had obviously been very good up to this point. They’d even won a bunch trophies before. But for all their success, the Sounders had never even played in an MLS Cup final prior to the magical 2016 run, and there were certainly loud grumblings within the fanbase about whether the Sounders had simply missed their window.
The way everyone exploded with joy was illustrative of a certain pent up joy.
Watching this video now, it also serves as a reminder of what sports can do for us. It has now been more than two months since we last saw the Sounders play a competitive match and it might be another year or more before we get to do so again in person. I’m definitely going to miss big moments like this, but I already miss the smaller ones that come during virtually every match. I don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable enough to mindlessly hug a stranger next to me. I don’t know when I’ll even be willing to share a high-five with someone I know, but don’t live with. But I’m definitely looking forward to it, and I suspect the tears will flow the next time it happens.