Lifestyle MLB

How to Understand the Game: Deciphering Sports

Challenges help us grow in life. And one challenge I wanted to conquer was figuring out sports.

I know to others this isn’t hard to do, but coming from a family who doesn’t play or watch- it’s foreign. When I told people, especially my family about my new year’s resolution-they all laughed at me. I got the smirks, huffs, and the occasional whys. I already knew what they were thinking…why are you suddenly interested in sports? You’re a girl what makes you think you’ll even understand it? And worst of all was the questions of so whos the guy?

Why can’t a female want to learn about baseball, basketball, football, hockey, wrestling, volleyball and etc just for herself? I decided to prove everyone wrong not just because of their sexist ideas, but for myself as well. I wanted to do it for me. To see if I could do it. But also to remind myself that if any other obstacle goes on in my life that I can overcome it. So if you’re a female reading this, here are the steps I took to understand the game.

1. Pick a Sport

First thing I did was select which ones to learn about first and use Google and Youtube. Since I love world history I looked at the history of each sport. Who created it, why was it created, what are the rules, how many teams in each division, how the game has impacted others over the years, strange facts about the teams, rivalries, and then I started to watch the game on tv. I remember watching baseball for the first time and I fell asleep. It was the New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays and Tanaka was pitching. Nobody got any hits and I thought why do people find this entertaining again?

The next day, I decided to give it one more try and it was amazing. It was the Washington Nationals vs the St. Louis Cardinals and Matt Carpenter caught the ball with his bare hand. There was blood and I was hooked. I wanted to give it another chance, trying to understand the game another chance. Another day I watched one game of basketball, next to a game of hockey, and football. I even watched movies pertaining to sports to understand the passion behind the game.

2. Have an Open Mind

When a person is willing to try something new, the most important step is to change their current mindset. If you’re going to try to understand something different you have to be willing to change your perspective. I had to ignore that little voice in my head telling that this is just too hard, it’s only a game, it’s not life-changing, and just focus. I had to put myself mentally in the fans shoes but also the athletes as well. In order to do that I watched some documentaries and went to thrift shops to buy books about the game. Did I sometimes fall asleep? Yes. Some of the information was just too boring, but other books weren’t all stats but more about the life of each player. I like to know who I’m cheering on. Whether they are talented but more importantly are they good people in general. That’s just my preference though, you might like to know about an athlete based solely on what he brings to the table which is okay too.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

How can a person know anything if they don’t ask for help? Talk to someone who you trust knows about the sport you want to invest your time in. Even though my relatives or people I worked with would laugh at me when I would ask them “silly” questions that still didn’t stop me. I wanted to know the answer and if I sounded dumb its because I was in a way. How can a person change? By educating themselves.

4. Pick a Team

If one team, in particular, doesn’t stick out to you then that’s not your team. It’s almost like the team picks you if that makes any sense. You’ll notice the colors look good, the logo looks nice, and before you know it you’ll remember all the players’ names on the team. It’s not because you researched it though but some players will stick out to you more than others because you simply just like them.

For instance, whenever I would mention baseball to anyone I talked about the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and they would tell me you seem to really like the Yankees. I denied it completely. Every single time I told them no ESPN just has them on all the time that’s why I know so about them. However, when Todd Frazier was playing I just couldn’t hate them. I knew the history of them being the evil empire and the fans being snobbish, but I kind of see them as the underdogs. Everyone wants them to lose, but I want them to succeed.

5. Keep Going

You have to continue watching the sport and study. It’s like learning a different language. You have to continue to practice otherwise you’ll forget all the information. Putting in the work really does pay off in the end because you’ll get wrapped up in the game. For example, I use to carry a tiny notebook that has names of different sports teams, the rules of the game, even the vocabulary (nerd I know) and would try to remember everything. Why? Because I wanted to be able to watch the game without questions rolling around in my head after each commercial.

It’s been almost 2 years and I’m still learning, but I absolutely love it. This experience has shown me what I’m capable of if I really push myself. People who use to make fun of me, now are shocked by how much information I know and some are very impressed. None of that matters to me though. What matters is that me, myself, and I stuck with it.

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