What do you believe in? What things in your life, aside from religion as the ultimate test of belief, fills you with a comviction that is unshakable?
What happened when that thing, that institution, let you down?
In not that many hours, Barça is going to try to do It again. The last home Champions League match, against PSG, the UEFA computers gave Barça a zero percent chance of advancing.
Against Juventus, the odds are a lot more confidence-inspiring, at six percent.
Every kid has that moment when they find out that there is no Santa, that Caga Tio didn’t poop those delights. One year, as a wee one, I wanted a weight set. Wanted to be big and strong, like Dad. My Mom woke me in the night and said, “Good news and bad news. You got your weights. There is no Santa. Now come down to the car and help me.”
At that moment, belief in one institution ended, and another began.
The world, right now, is a messed-up place. There is politics, and war, and strife, and strongmen brandishing nukes at each other as in other countries, life is about to change in significant ways.
But now, no matter where they are, culers will, for 90 minutes or more, gather to believe. Even those who claim not to have belief will, down in those corners of their psyche that they rarely visit, pull the cover from the flame, and have hope. Because week after week, sport does the impossible, restores our faith, allows us to hug, scream, exult and run around in life-affirming joy. Sport can move us because it is magic.
Barça will have to score at least four goals against the best defense in Europe. This isn’t PSG, with players who sat around pizza and discussed how worried they were, even with a 4-0 aggregate lead. This is Juventus, with defensive assassins, and that craggy, unassailable Godzilla of a keeper.
How in the hell is a remuntada supposed to happen? No idea. Sport is this thing that lets everyone get away. It doesn’t matter, so it can count for everything. It’s a series of moments that let you forget that everything in your life might suck — because you have your team.
You put on the shirt, maybe you paint your face as you try to recall the exact sequence of tasks that you performed the last time your team did the impossible. Same underwear, same shoes, same route to your local bar, where you explain to someone the necessity of your sitting in the seat that they presently occupy, because that is where you were sitting when It happened.
Nothing is left to chance.
When the ball is kicked, our hearts will leap and flutter. If you are culer, you won’t be able to help it. You will hope, and dream, and believe. Faith? As a subset of belief, you have faith in the best player in the game, faith that a diminutive Argentine legend, who would be the towel boy for real athletes except he becomes a colossus with a football at his feet, can do it, can elevate his teammates, give them enough opportunities to make you weep with joy. Again.
Faith and belief are all that we have. Politics, institutions, Santa let us down. Sport is an opportunity for renewed belief, a restoration of something magical. And it happens every week.
“See? I told you they could do it!”
Will it be this week? Will it be today? We all know that our belief is silly, that it doesn’t matter. But it’s all we have. Culers say “we” in discussing the team, because full support is being part of a collective, a psychic entity that is raw, vibrant and unreserved. Hate the board, hate the coach, hate this player or that player but when the whistle blows and that first ball is kicked, dammit, it’s Barça. And we, the collective, psychic organism, believe. We have hope, because that is all we can have, all that we can do.
We have to believe that our team will triumph, that we will triumph. We have to believe because that is all we can do, but it is everything. Sport crushes us when belief dies because emotion is a raw, vibrant, real thing.
Lord knows what is going to happen today, against Juventus. I believe that Barça will triumph. Again. Because that is the only option I have. When we stop believing in our teams, when supporters of a timy club stop packing the stands when the big club comes to town, something has died. It all stops being special when the possibility of magic goes.
We gather to hope and believe not because sport is life. Sport is our bulwark, no matter what life does. Don’t ever let that belief go. Force something to rip it from your hands and even then, grab for it, clutch at it, rail against reality.
All in. Remuntada. Let’s DO this.