I know that not all of us are members of “Red Sox Nation,” as the dedicated followers of the Red Sox have named themselves, nor for that matter, baseball fans of any description. Many are those who pay no attention whatsoever to the day in February when “pitchers and catchers report” that marks the beginning of baseball’s spring training season. (True fans, meanwhile, will have circled this day on their calendars with the kind of reverence and zeal reserved by the pious for the holy days of their religion.)
However, neither the casual fan nor the non-fan is likely to escape the general cultural attention paid to the sport, particularly as it has been hailed for years as our annual harbinger of hope that even now, in winter’s sullen depths, we take heart in knowing there are warmer days ahead. Soon the boys and girls of summer, from youngest tots to grizzled pros, will be taking to parks and fields in our great summer sport; millions will follow them via radio, TV and in the stands. In humble local parks and multi-million-dollar stadia the faithful will gather in hallowed spaces to engage in time-honored rituals like the “Seventh Inning Stretch.” They will share familiar music, chants and songs; most of all, they will give their hearts to the players and the game, ready to share in true fellowship of either agony or ecstasy. However, over time, their dedication can surge or fall away depending on the success of the team. They might stop attending.
More than one commentator has noted a similarity between “sport dedication” and “religious dedication.” A classic newsletter column has circulated for years among churches and ministers of all denominations that humorously compares the two. I offer it here in the spirit of fun at the beginning of spring training.
Why People Stop Going to Baseball Games
- No one sent me a personal invitation to attend the game.
- Every time I went to a game, they asked me for money.
- The people around me in the stands didn’t seem very friendly.
- The umpire made some decisions with which I didn’t agree.
- Some games went into extra innings and I was late getting home.
- They always played games on weekends, the only time I have to rest.
- The seats were uncomfortable.
- The ballpark organist played tunes I didn’t know.
- My parents made me go to games when I was little.
- I recently read a book about baseball and I feel I know as much as the players and the manager anyway.
- I don’t feel I should make my children attend baseball games. When they are old enough they can decide for themselves which team they want to support.