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Much more than a win

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NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Last semester, I wrote a column focused on how the Chicago Cubs were becoming more corporate and, in that vein, losing a little bit of their lovable essence.

This was the end of April — not even one month into a Cubs season that would last for more than seven.

To recap, I am a native Chicagoan and have lived within a mile of Wrigley Field my entire life, attending games since I was only a month old.

When I was back at home this May, my mom woke me up one day by dropping four Cubs-Phillies tickets on my head. Days later, I made the trek down Addison Street to Wrigley and watched the game with my good friend Elizabeth, my brother and his friend. After watching the Cubs seal a 7-2 win, Elizabeth and I went to Sluggers, a local bar, and danced for hours. The evening was one of pure happiness.

On Nov. 2, 2016, I again found myself in a sports bar — this time at Pappy’s in Berkeley — feeling similarly ecstatic.

I shed tears of elation when I saw the Cubs clinch the 8-7 win in 10 innings to win the World Series.

I cried not just for myself; because who am I to cry after only having waited 19 out of 108 years for the momentous win? I cried for my mom, who has been a huge baseball fan her whole life and is sad that none of her kids play. I cried for my grandpa and uncle, who my mom said she was sure were “high-fiving in heaven.” Finally, I cried because of the overwhelming sense of pride that I felt for my city that has given me an unbelievable upbringing — of which the Cubs were a huge part.

As my friends who attended school in the Midwest posted footage of the victory parade (that attracted a reported record five million celebrants) and the river dyed blue, I so desperately wanted to go home that week to take my own picture underneath the “World Champions” banner.

Still, every day for the next week, I woke up smiling, remembering that if Kris Bryant could lead the Cubs to overcome all odds, I would have a great day.

This mentality remained with me for only six short days — until election night.

On Oct. 30, with the Cubs down 3-1, FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s statistical analysis website, claimed that the Cubs had a smaller chance of winning the World Series than Donald Trump did of winning the election.

In another statistics-defying moment, however, Trump was elected president of the United States.

The hopelessness I felt during the situation caused me to feel the exact opposite of the previous week — sad and frustrated.

The sports world has the ability to unite communities. The 1980 Winter Olympics with the U.S. win over the Soviet Union in the ice hockey medal rounds was a symbol of hope for all Americans. Referred to as the “Miracle on Ice,” the gold medal brought a country whose morale was at an all-time low out of the darkness.

This hockey win, as much as a sports victory, was also a political move during the Cold War.

After Game Seven, fans scrawled messages in chalk on the brick under the bleachers of the stadium, dedicating the win to deceased relatives who didn’t have the chance to witness the triumph. Now, the spot acts as a “makeshift memorial” for fans to share their stories.

Just like the “Miracle on Ice,” the World Series win was more than just a win. It brought so many people who had waited for so long together to celebrate overcoming the impossible. It gave hope to people who were down on their luck and overwhelmed at school (me) and united people from all corners of the country.

As someone who is unsure about how the future looks under a Trump presidency, I don’t necessarily buy into the claim that the Cubs win ushered in an American apocalypse, but I do buy into the idea that the World Series stands as a symbol of hope. If a baseball franchise can wait more than 100 years for a big break, we can band together as a nation and make it through four years.

Contact Lucy Schaefer at [email protected]

NOVEMBER 29, 2016