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In which John discusses the third thing, football, and the way back to Plough Lane for AFC Wimbledon.

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And so it begins. Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. I do get why people dislike sports. As noted in a previous Anthropocene Reviewed episode, it's a little weird that humans invest such a tremendous portion of their limited resources into developing extremely sophisticated strategies for placing a usually round object into a hole or through a hoop or past a line. And it's weird that many people offer gobs of their attention to watching and arguing over the exploits of these balls and the people who get paid astonishing sums of money to move the balls around. I get it. But I think deep down, sports are not actually about the balls or the people maneuvering them. I think at their core, sports are just a third thing. I should back up here and introduce you to "The Third Thing" an essay the poet Donald Hall wrote after the death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon In the essay, he writes, "We did not spend our days gazing into each other’s eyes. We did that gazing when we made love or when one of us was in trouble, but most of the time our gazes met and entwined as they looked at a third thing. Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention." I think these third things are essential, not only to marriages but also to lots of other relationships. Like BTS could be a third thing in a friendship or a Youtube channel could be a third thing in a sibling relationship. And I think larger communities also benefit from third things that can offer a site of joint rapture and when sports work, that's what they do. I think that might be why I am so enthralled by AFC Wimbledon, a third-tier English football team we sponsor. Beginning in the 1990s, Wimbledon fans suffered a series of heartbreaks that had nothing to do with the balls or the people moving them around -- first, they lost their stadium Plough Lane, before eventually being told that their football club, founded in 1889, basically no longer existed. The club's wealthy owners moved the team to Milton Keynes, and Wimbledon fans were left without their Third Thing. But the fans refused to accept that and so they re-formed their club, starting out in the ninth tier of English football, now owned not by some rich person but by the fans themselves, the people that value Wimbledon not as a financial asset but as a site of joint rapture. Each fan pays about $30 a year for an ownership - stake or less if you're unemployed or retired or a student. You can also pay more - and get certain perks, like for instance seeing your logo on the back of AFC Wimbledon's shorts but no matter how much or little you pay you still get the same single vote in board elections and other major decisions. And with that model, AFC Wimbledon have worked their way from the bottom rungs of amateur football back to being a full-time professional team that actually now plays in the same division as that franchise over in Milton Keyes. And this year, AFC Wimbledon is, at last, coming home to a new stadium across the street from where the Old Plough Lane stadium stood. For decades, Wimbledon fans have been singing, "Show me the way to Plough Lane. I'm tired and I want to go home." And now they are going home at last and they are going home together. That's the way to Plough Lane: Together. In Milton Keyes and most of the sporting world including at my beloved Liverpool Football Club, we see a model where Third Things are treated as investment vehicles to be owned by the rich. And in Wimbledon, we see a very different model - one that treats the third thing as belonging to the people who share attention that makes that third thing valuable. Wimbledon's way is definitely messier and less efficient. But it's our club - it really is ours. Every one of us who cares about it. Every fan should be so lucky. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.