We gather together on Sundays
With people who share our belief
Our community spans generations
In collective elation or grief
We’re transformed in ecstatic communion
There are times we—as one—hold our breath
We have given our hearts to our passion
In a way that defies even death
This is bigger by far than religion
Even bigger than God, it would seem
“Greater love hath no man”, goes the saying,
“Than the love of a fan for a team”
And the stands now are packed with our family
We’re committed—till death do us part
And beyond—if I die a bit early
Someone else can take over my heart
And my eyes will keep watching, for someone
And my lungs, for another, can shout
I’ll be scattered all over the stadium
It’s the best of what fandom’s about
Sure, the love for a team may be foolish
But it’s true the community thrives
So it’s root, root, root for a new thing:
In the name of your team—saving lives
Via the Beeb, a really cool story about the very real communities built up among the fans of sport teams–in particular, Brazil’s Sport Club Recife, which has used the power of the fanbase to promote organ donation:
“I promise that your eyes will keep on watching Sport Club Recife,” says one man waiting for a cornea transplant in the television ad made to publicise the campaign.
“I promise that your heart will keep on beating for Sport Club Recife,” says a potential recipient of a transplanted heart.
The video is screened at every match in the club’s Ilha do Retiro stadium, a venue that seats 35,000 but could be filled almost twice over with the number of people who have signed up for a donor card – 66,000 so far.
The waiting list for organ transplants in the city of Recife was reduced to zero in the first year, Peixoto says, and the impact has also been felt throughout the surrounding state of Pernambuco.
“We used to perform from five to seven heart transplants a year, but last year we achieved 28… it was an incredible increase,” says Fernando Figueira, director of heart transplants at Pernambuco’s Institute of Integrated Medicine
First off, the campaign is beautiful; it seamlessly integrates organ donation with fandom in a way that really resonates. Secondly… wow! What an impact!
My own team, as both my readers know, is the Cleveland Browns–and the Browns Backers have been active for years, organizing blood donations, community cleanups, and (just today) launched the First and Ten project.
This is why I don’t particularly care for the atheist “Sunday Assembly” stuff. Hey, for those who enjoy it, I support you, but it seems a lot of “what is it that religion does that is worth copying?”… and frankly, the communities built around sports teams already have that covered–and not by copying a church, but by the organic growth of the fan community, the mutual caring for one’s fellow human beings.
And it is “human beings” rather than just one’s own fan community:
It’s not just about club loyalty though. Daniele Dias Pessoa, 32, supports one of Recife’s other clubs, Santa Cruz, but also decided to lend her face to her bitter rivals’ campaign.
Pessoa’s mother died of a stroke two years ago and she fulfilled her wishes, donating five of her organs.
“It was a very hard decision but it’s an act of love. Thanks to her, five people could finally leave the waiting list for a transplant,” she says.
Her mother was also a Santa Cruz supporter, but, says Pessoa, “I’m sure she wouldn’t have cared if her organs went to a Sport Recife fan.”
I love it.