I Love Balls: The Making of a Sports Fan

Is there anything more clichéd than a girl who doesn't care about sports? Like, there's absolutely nothing concrete holding women back from caring about sports just as much as men—and as someone whose job it is to call bullshit on the social conditioning that confines women to certain behaviors and interests, I should be able to appreciate the fuck out of some sports. Right? But I don't. I don't give a shit. How embarrassing.

But I've been wondering lately…could I give a shit? What am I missing? When I quizzed my male friends on why they love sports—once I got them to engage the question beyond "because sports are awesome!"—the answers were mostly the same: It's the aspirational spectacle of human beings in peak physical condition. It's getting to watch someone do a thing who is the best in the world at doing that thing. Because it's awesome. But to be honest, those reasons seem like a mega-snooze to me. I don't get it. It seems so repetitive and boring. And I don't see why I should care about people who are really really good at doing a really really arbitrary thing. Rich people running in circles. Because it's just made up, you know? Oh, look at me! I'm the best in the world at this game I just made up! It's called Garbage Ball and what I do is I throw garbage over my neighbor's fence until I win. Which is ALWAYS. Garbage Ball! Give me a million dollars!

But then I talked to another friend—a super-smart sports obsessive who is also a lady—who offered the first defense of sports that actually sounded compelling to me:

I guess it's just that sports are like great TV drama. They're an emotional roller coaster. You never see the twists and turns coming, you connect with a few regular characters, and no matter what happens you always go back. For me, I love the Seahawks because they are they purest symbol of my city, and I love my city more than anything. There's a sense of competition within all of us, and sports speak to that.

So sports…is like TV? And not just like any old TV, but the kind of thrilling, sweeping, expansive dramas that make you actually feel something? That's something I can connect with. Maybe this can work.

So I'm going to give it a try. I'm going to learn how to like sports. And not only that, I'm going to jump right into the deep end with the most boring sport of all: BASEBALL. Hey, are you looking for all the boringness of sports, but with extra statistics? Try baseball! It's sports + math! Also, each season consists of 7,000 games, and each game is four days long. Baseball. My new best friend.

But why not? I am a capable modern lady and I will conquer the shit out of baseball. Specifically, my goals for this project include:

1. Understand the rules of baseball
2. Figure out why people like baseball so much
3. Learn to genuinely like baseball

And I will be regularly documenting this journey right here.

Since I live in Los Angeles, I will be rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I will watch every game. I will read sports blogs. I will purchase a hat. Next week I'll be at Dodgers Stadium for opening day, where I will eat an entire hot dog even though I hate hot dogs (sacrifice!!!). I will prevail.

When I mentioned the Dodgers to my friend, she said: "Oh, the Dodgers are so perfect, because of what they've been through. They had this greedy dick take their team and run it into the ground. And now they have a local hero—a man who loves and appreciates their city as much as they do—swoop in. White knight. Returning them to greatness. It's hella touching." Well, perfect. I'm ready. Touch me, Dodgers! Touch me!!!

Photo credit: (C) RTimages / Stockfresh.