Get your head in the game: How I became a (somewhat) enthusiastic sports fan

Me pretending to enjoy ultimate football at NSI. In reality, I was terrified someone would realize I hadn't played yet and force me out there. Photo by Brandon Saddler
Me pretending to enjoy ultimate football at NSI. In reality, I was terrified someone would realize I hadn’t played yet and force me out there.
Photo by Brandon Saddler

Ronna Fisher, Editor-in-Chief

    Sports and me? We just don’t mix. Growing up, PE was my least favorite class in school. The days we had PE, my stomach would clench, and I would be worried sick. What were we going to do that day? Would I have to run? Will I be embarrassed? Will someone else ask the PE teacher why my face was so red? (Yes, that actually happened). I was uncoordinated and slow. When people were excited to go to PE and run around, I was wishing I was the girl with the broken leg and crutches who had to sit out. PE was the first class I ever got a B in.

    Recess meant sitting under the playground reading while everyone else ran around playing tag or soccer. In Kindergarten I chased the boys with the other girls in my class, but I eventually gave up because I could never catch them. There was one time I played soccer during recess and ended up getting slammed in the face by the ball. Never again.

    Why anyone would enjoy running around kicking, throwing or pushing a spherical object on a large field was simply a mystery. When I was forced to go to football games with my parents, I would try to tune out the yelling and music and get lost in a book. At high school football games, I was goofing off behind the bleachers with my fellow band members. There may have been one or two games where I actually got into the game and cheered, but it was rare. The football games on tv at home were simply annoying background noise for the homework I was doing or, again, the book I was reading. I just didn’t understand sports. I didn’t understand the rules. I didn’t understand the point. I knew that I couldn’t play them, so why watch them?

Photo by Marcio Cabral used under the Creative Commons License
Photo by Marcio Cabral used under the Creative Commons License

    College was different. Not only were sporting events a social thing, but, at one point, I was even required to attend a certain number of athletic events. Additionally, I had friends on teams that I wanted to support. Over the years, my indifference to sports has creeped toward tolerance, and my tolerance eventually nudged past the line to novice sports enthusiast. First semester freshman year I attended almost every home soccer game. I’ve clapped and hollered at multiple basketball games and discovered I really love volleyball games. I’ve voluntarily attended football games and a few softball games here and there as well.

    If you think you ardently hate sports, I seriously urge you to give them a try; you might be surprised to find yourself actually enjoying a sporting event.

Here are some tips for the game-attending rookie:

1. Focus: I usually enjoy games more if I am actually paying attention. It’s hard to be excited about something that you didn’t even see. Plus, it’s annoying to have to constantly ask, “What happened? What’d I miss?” (Speaking from experience here).

2. Get to Know Athletes: Seriously. This is why I began going to any games in the first place. Once I knew someone on a team and how hard they trained each week, I wanted to be there to support them.

3. Ask Questions: It’s okay to ask questions. Go with someone who knows what they are talking about and is willing to answer your questions without being a sports snob. “A corner kick is when they kick the ball from the corner.” You’re new to this. It’s okay to admit you don’t understand something.

4. Keep Going: It might take a couple to times to really understand or enjoy a game. Don’t let one bad, boring or uncomfortable experience ruin games for you.

5. Be honest, be comfortable, don’t force anything. Football still isn’t my favorite sport to watch. I usually don’t get really into it until around the fourth quarter. If I try to be excited the whole game, I get tired of it . . . football games are long, okay? If you don’t feel like actually watching something, that’s okay. It’s alright to go to a game just so you can hang out and chat.

    Also, make sure you’re comfortable. If you get overwhelmed in the crowded student section at basketball games, that is okay. Personally, I love the energy of the student section, but when I’m over there all I can think about is how I want to sit down, I’m about to fall over or how packed in I am.

    So go, watch, sit and do what feels right. Otherwise, you’ll continue to give sports the cold shoulder.