How to Get Into a Sport
August 11, 2016 at 12:37 pm
I LOVE SPORTS. Sports are amazing. There’s camaraderie, there’s competition, there’s drama. Seriously, watching SportsCenter is as addicting as watching TMZ for the exact same reasons. For me, there are only two seasons: the playing season and the off season. And I’m not too picky; I’ll watch just about anything. Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, track and field, archery, swimming, gymnastics, you name it. (However, to be honest, I’d rather watch my dog lick himself than watch soccer.)
I think everyone should get into sports. I was lucky enough to have a dad that loves sports, and he passed that love to me. If you weren’t so lucky but still want to join the fun, then I have five easy ways (and a bonus!) for you to do just that.
Choose a team — choose a rival
The first thing you have to do when trying to get into a sport is pick a team. It really doesn’t matter how you pick the team, just that you have someone to root for. You can pick your hometown team, your dad’s favorite team, or even by which colors you think look good in (sorry UT fans, but burnt orange looks good on NO ONE). Having someone to root for is going to make the games much more fun for you because now you have a personal (you can take that word with a grain of salt) stake in the outcome of the game.
What’s even more fun than rooting for a team is hating a team. Every team in professional and collegiate sports has a rival, and rivalry games are the best. Some of my fondest memories are going to a Cowboys game to boo Eli Manning or playing the Blue Jays and booing Jose Bautista. Added bonus, if your rivalry team is doing worse than your favorite team, you get an everlasting mood boost from the misery of their fans. For instance, the Anaheim Angels are doing awful this year despite the fact they have two phenomenal batters in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. It just goes to show that money can’t buy you championships.
Pick a favorite player
Picking a favorite player is almost as important as picking a favorite team. Becoming committed to the success of a player means you are also committed to the success of the team. Plus, having one player to focus on will make it easier to follow the game than to try and watch everyone all the time. Having a favorite player to watch will help with the next tip.
The process of picking a favorite player is much like picking your favorite team. The only rule is that you should pick a player on the team you’re actively rooting for. Otherwise, what’s the point? Don’t divide your loyalties so early . . . you’ll have that opportunity once you join a fantasy team.
Get into the spirit of the sport
Part of being a sports fan is representing your team every chance you get. So buy your favorite player’s jersey, get a bumper sticker proclaiming your love for your team, and throw out any and all clothing that has your rival team’s colors. You’re a [insert sports team] fan now, so start acting like it!
When I’m in public, I try to act like a normal person. But when I’m in public and I see an Eagles fan, I take the opportunity to boo and sneer at them. You can judge the merit of a person immediately by their favorite sports team (okay, that’s not true, I’m sure there are some perfectly decent Eagles fans out there…). This may seem crazy to you, but I guarantee, it’s all part of the fun. Just, you know, don’t go overboard. No one needs to get shot over this (I’m looking at you, Oakland).
Find a guru
It’s a bad idea to walk blindly into a sport. Trying to learn the sport by yourself can be difficult, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the subtle nuances of the game. That’s why it’s always good to find a guru, someone who already knows and loves the game. They can explain exactly what you’re looking at AND feeding off their enthusiasm can only help you get into the game. You’d be surprised at how the little things matter, and the game will be so much more enjoyable once you understand what it is that you’re looking at.
Another great reason to find a guru is so you can get the backstory behind the game. Every player has a story, every game has something at stake. You wouldn’t know these things unless you’ve been a fan of the game for a while, so having someone help you understand what the stakes are will strengthen your burgeoning fandom.
Go to games
Watching on TV is fun, but there’s nothing like a live game. For example, I’ve never been a fan of hockey. I grew up in Texas (AKA Football Country) where there’s a 0 percent chance a body of water is going to freeze over enough for me to engage in a game of ice hockey. Hockey just doesn’t carry weight in Texas so I never really got into it.
That is, until Jessika took me to my first Dallas Stars game. From the moment the crowd yelled “STARS!” during the National Anthem and the soundtrack of the stadium included Rage Against the Machine and Pantera (who, fun fact, recorded the Dallas Stars theme song appropriately titled “Puck Off”), I was hooked. Even when I didn’t really understand what was going on, I was swept away by the energy of the crowd. Since then I have tried to watch games on TV, and while I found the playoffs engrossing, nothing compared to the feeling of actually being at the rink.
Bonus: Join a fantasy team
Joining a fantasy team is something you should do once you have a basic understanding of the sport, otherwise it may not be fun for you. But once you do, you should start reaping the benefits. By joining a fantasy team, you are expanding your horizons. Your fantasy team can’t just have people from the team you root for, so you end up learning about players on other teams as well as familiarizing yourself with the different positions. Once you become invested in your fantasy team, you’ll want to watch all the games your players are playing in. By default, you learn more about the game because you’re watching more of them.
Congratulations! You’re now a sports fan! Now it’s time to get out there and enjoy your new sport. You’ve picked the perfect time to jump on the sports train because fall has baseball playoffs as well as the beginning of the football, basketball, and hockey season. Enjoy the season; it always ends faster than you think.