The Beautiful Game Experience
By Jim Durrett, executive director of Buckhead CID
I was going to write something about the Buckhead CID, but after last night my subject changed.
I love soccer. I started playing the beautiful game on Poppelsdorfer Allee in Bonn, Germany, in the summer of ’69. I was a very fortunate 12-year-old enjoying an entire summer with my younger brother, Mac, touring Europe with our grandparents. (Can you imagine how grateful our parents must have been?) The last month of our summer vacation was spent down the street from Poppelsdorfer Palace, and one day I visited the beautiful, green park in front of the Palace and saw kids running around kicking a round ball. I watched for a while off to the side to get a sense of what the game was all about, summoned up my courage and invited myself to play. And that was it. I was hooked.
Last night, Mac and I attended the second round playoff game of Atlanta United. If you have been to an Atlanta United game, you probably know where I am headed. If you have not, see if there are any tickets available for the semifinal against Toronto, or go to a game next season. Watching them play on television isn’t the same thing.
The experience of being at the game is like nothing else available in the Atlanta region. Look around you as you head to the game (hopefully arriving at Mercedes Benz Stadium via MARTA) and marvel at the diversity of which you are a part. See if you notice the smile on your face, and realize that just being with all of these people – young, old, black, white, brown, well off, just getting by – brought together in great anticipation by something they love, is delightful.
Enter the stadium, eventually finding your way to your seat. I warn you – you may be standing for the 90+ minutes of play! Your eyes will be drawn to the east end of the stadium where the Supporters groups are positioned waving their flags and chanting their songs, infecting the entire stadium with energy and joy. And then you are treated to a great game.
But what matters more to me than anything else is being in the mix of people who love being with each other despite, or perhaps because of, their differences. We should seek more opportunities to create places and reasons to come together in community like this. Actually, that kind of describes a big part of my job. Time to get back to work.
(Featured Image: the Durrett brothers, Mac in hat)