Monday, September 05, 2016

Nothing Is Truly Free

I have gone to shows for which I had little or no interest in the headliner, but I have become a fan by the end. The stakes aren't very high, since the tickets were free. Winning a pair of seats to a concert is a great way to fall in love with a new artist. New to me, anyway. Sometimes there is that awkward piece of trying to fit in with those already indoctrinated to the ways of the fanatic. Oh, this is the part where the band leaves the stage and the singer does that acoustic bit for which he is so well known. Of course they finish the night with a singalong version of Carmina Burana. The next time I attend a show,
This works well for concerts. It's not quite the same for sporting events. As mentioned here recently, my mild antipathy for the Oakland Raiders, but I try not to let that flavor my interactions with the kids in my Oakland School. I understand that this is their turf, and when the local sports franchise is in a giving mood, it's best not to be a holdout and insist that our free T-shirts come in some other colors besides silver and black. Free T-shirts can be any color they need to meet that first criteria: free. Which is also why, when the Oakland Raiders Foundation offered up thirty seats to their final preseason game to my last year's fifth grade community leadership group, I could not say no.
Well, I was physically able to do so, but I felt morally obligated to make sure that these kids who had worked with me over the course of the last ten months on two separate service projects got to attend a game in the stadium that most of them simply drive by with their parents. The chance to attend a professional sporting event of any kind, let alone one to watch their beloved Raiders, was something I would not pass up.
This meant that I would be attending, with the love and support of my wife and son, to make it as much of a family affair as possible. It was great to see the old crew together again. It seemed as though they had aged much more than a summer's worth. Maybe it was those first two weeks of middle school. They were all happy to see me, but were just as glad to be chatting with their friends or checking their omnipresent phones. Incipient teens, some of whom I remember showing to their Kindergarten classes on that first day of school. Seven years ago.
Down on the field, the game wore on. As football games go, it wasn't much of a spectacle, but for the kids in the stands, it was a magical night. I'm glad we got to go.

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