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I started watching baseball kind of seriously as a previous sports hater: my thoughts

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

For the longest time, I never quite understood the appeal behind watching team sports. It wasn’t like I didn’t grow up with a sports-watching culture; cricket was always on in the early mornings thanks to my dad, my younger brother loves watching soccer, and kids at school were always talking about football, basketball, and baseball. In fact, I still remember the intensity with which my classmates and teachers had discussed the World Series in 2014; this was the year that the San Francisco Giants beat the Kansas City Royals to get the World Series title (I grew up in Sacramento, so by proxy everyone around me would always cheer for Bay Area teams—it’s just a thing we do since we don’t have a lot of our own professional teams up here). From what I remember, everyone was talking about how it was so unexpected and spoke really excitedly about the whole ordeal. But, whenever I would ask questions about what was going on, people mostly ignored me; it almost seemed like it was a social fault that I didn’t know why this win was such a big deal. So, as someone who didn’t quite understand what was going on, I just didn’t see what the whole fuss was about. 

But in college, I lived with a roommate that watched a lot of team sports, especially baseball. We had one TV to share among three people, and most nights, I would be able to catch glimpses of the games that she would watch. As someone who loves learning and getting into things that the people I love also love, I started to ask her questions about the games themselves: how points are scored, general questions about teams and players, and just whatever came to mind when I was watching the games along with her. And the nicest part was that unlike most people I came across who liked sports, she actually explained things to me both patiently and passionately and never looked down upon my lack of knowledge, which I had experienced before. 

Then, after about 2 years of living together, I ended up going to a game with her and my other roommates for the first time. Now, my reasons for going were quite simple; I wanted to spend time with my friend who loves baseball and admittedly, there were some cute guys on the team that I really wanted to see after my friend showed them to me (I’m just a girl…). However, being in the stadium and watching a game live kind of made something click; people like watching “struggle to success” stories and a baseball game makes that happen in the span of two hours. Trying to score in baseball is really difficult: the scoring zones are quite arbitrary and are made on the calls of other people watching the game. You may not necessarily agree with them either, which can lead to resentment or discussion.  Additionally, hitting the ball once is not enough—you need to rely on all of your hitters to hit well so you can get people to cross all of the bases. When you watch the pitcher, you can see them visibly struggle in trying to throw the ball in a way that will land perfectly within the strike zone but also make sure that the batter won’t be able to hit it. On top of that, once you choose a team to support on this struggle-to-success journey, you almost end up in a parasocial kind of trap; even if your original reasoning for choosing a team to root for may be something simple (everyone around you supports them so you fall into it too, the team being located in your hometown or close to it, or you just fell for the way certain players on teams play), once you’ve dedicated yourself to seeing them succeed, you easily get caught in all of the emotions. All in all, getting to see this struggle, and being able to discuss and react to it while it happens live, with friends that also are interested, was an experience I am grateful that I had. Even though I didn’t 100 percent understand everything, the rush was exhilarating and I could feel myself slowly getting addicted… I wanted to experience this whirlwind of emotions way more often. 

And, that’s why I now watch games too… sometimes. I am not the most consistent watcher of games and to be honest, there’s a lot of things that I still don’t really understand. Sometimes I’ll ask my friend about what certain things mean, or I’ll just read the subreddit dedicated to the Giants, which I chose as my team of choice to support purely because of the geographical connection. Even though there’s still a lot of the season left, I’ve already faced a lot of stress; players that I liked watching are already out for the season due to injuries and there have just been multiple terribly embarrassing losses. But it has also been so exciting too, especially when the team succeeds in dire conditions and when rookie players get their flowers for playing well (I feel particularly attached to rookies since they’re new to playing and I am new to watching, and I am looking forward to seeing how they progress). Overall, watching baseball has seriously kind of been fun, and I appreciate the emotional fulfillment it has been providing me especially at this lull point in my life.

Brinda Kalita

UC Riverside '24

4th year history major with opinions on anything and everything