“Evil is committed without effort, naturally, fatally; goodness is always the product of some art.”
– Charles Baudelaire

Let me tell you a story

It’s early December, 2013. I’m sitting on the fifth floor of the Beardslee Library in Holland, MI on a Wednesday afternoon. The day is long, and my eyelids droop with the kind of bleariness only hours of class and homework can induce. I’m tired. The semester’s drawing to a close, and I’m alone in a library conference room; no one else is even on the fifth floor. I pull out my computer, secretly hoping for its demise, and open the bedraggled workhorse. The fan whirs loudly. Its deep breaths sound nearly as shaky and exhausted as my own.

I robotically open up my browser and click a bookmarked link at the top of the screen: ESPN. The page opens up, and I see the scorelines adorning the top of the site. Hmm, I think to myself, Liverpool is playing right now. My friend Jonathan loves Liverpool. I like soccer. I should watch this match.

So, to avoid getting any real work done, I flip over to the livestream. The game is in the fifteenth minute, meaning that the clock reads 14:05 and clicks upward. I’m not really paying attention, but I turn my eyes to the screen just in time to see Luis Suarez launch a prayer toward the goal. And then I watch this performance.

This is the moment I fell in love with Liverpool F.C.

You’ll notice that after Suarez’s first goal, the commentator says three words in quick, British succession: “Inevitable! Magical! Genius!” I like how those three words make me feel, and in a real way they capture my rediscovered love of soccer. In that one moment, I was hooked. My dreary eyes grew wide; I was instantly awake. After the game finished, the looming homework didn’t cast so large a shadow. I’d recaptured, in a split-second, a sense of awe.

There’s a large chance that right now I’m making something out of that goal and that moment that wasn’t there. It’s just a game, you’ll say, and you’re right. It is just a game. But as the ball floated effortlessly over the keeper’s stretched hand into the back of the net, I experienced something integral to life that I hadn’t experienced on an exhausting afternoon. It was beautiful, it was inevitable, it was magical, it was genius.

And that’s the nature of fandom. It doesn’t lead to salvation, and there’s more than one reason to be wary of its clutches. But every now and then, in a moment, some goodness comes over you.

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