What this photo from 1989 says about loyalty

Growing up in Mesa, Arizona

I value loyalty.

I hadn’t ever thought of myself as being an especially loyal guy until a friend raised it as one of my personal qualities a couple of years ago. I reflexively disagreed, but upon further reflection and discussion realized that it was probably an accurate statement. Hey, sometimes it takes you a few decades to learn about yourself.

I posted the picture above, which was taken in mid-September 1989, to illustrate this point. I was looking at a few of my old pictures for today’s Facebook meme and ran across this one. Besides the smile, I loved some of the insights the photo provides into who I am (more on that below).

But first: loyalty.

Despite the prominence of the tape player, the first thing I noticed about this photo was the ASU poster in the background. The second thing I noticed was my head-to-foot 49ers outfit. Recent events reminded me of my loyalty to both of these teams.

Earlier today on a work conference call, we scheduled our big annual event for a November weekend on which there’s a home ASU football game. It’s the second time in as many years. It will be only the third time I’ve missed a regularly-scheduled home game since becoming a fan in 1987. I’m already feeling bad about missing the game, even though I don’t have high hopes for next season. There have been far too many of those seasons, but alas, I continue to buy season tickets and root on the team. I’ve never willingly left the stadium before the bitter end, no matter the score or weather. If you know me, you know me as a loyal ASU fan.

The same concept, albeit to a lesser extent given the circumstances, applies to the 49ers. To be sure, the Niners had a grand glorious run – one for both the record and history books. But those times vanished when Eddie D gave up the team, and the team has had precious little success since then. Still, I’ve never wavered, even as it became fashionable for root for the Cardinals. In fact, everyone expects me to root for the Cards—I’m a native after all—and are usually shocked and a bit miffed that I’d rather the Cardinals lose every game they played. (For what it’s worth, they should have lost the last one.) Part of that is residual anger over their lawsuit against ASU, disrespect for the Bidwell family, and the fact they got a new stadium deal they didn’t in any possible way deserve. But much of it also boils down to the fact that the Cards and Niners are both in the NFC West. What can I say – I’m a loyal 49ers fan.

Of course, loyalty to a particular football team is hardly a personal characteristic you’d want engraved on your tombstone. There are far more important ways to be loyal, people to be loyal with, and values to be loyal to. But nonetheless, I think it’s a clear indicator of a larger and more meaningful pattern.

Speaking of indicators, let’s get back to the photo. Some other quick observations about what this picture might say about me, even at the ripe age of 10:

  • Tape cassettes weren’t cutting-edge, but I clearly enjoyed technology.
  • I was anal enough even back then to keep a running score tally on the ASU poster. Luckily, I wouldn’t get any database software for another couple of years.
  • Office supplies were in my future – notice the legal pad and pad holder. I’m such a geek.
  • I’m still refusing to acknowledge the GI Joe sheets.
  • I was nostalgic and sentimental even back then – notice the ticket pinned up next to the poster and the pom pom on the left side of the window sill. Those were less signs of fandom and had much more to do with saving memories.
  • Friendship bracelet FTW!

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