Take Us Out to the Ballgame
Baseball season is in full swing. A few weeks ago, my family attended opening weekend for the Isotopes, the AAA team in the Colorado Rockies organization. There are no professional sports teams in New Mexico so college athletics and the Isotopes are as pro as it gets.
We love us some baseball at our house. Jared and I both played growing up. Shortly after we began dating we started a collegiate club baseball team together. We are both in two fantasy leagues right now, one together and one we do separately. We are in ongoing love/hate relationships with the Rockies and the Tigers. We are lucky enough to have seen both of our teams in the World Series within a year of each other, though neither came out champs. From February to October we watch college, professional, and little league baseball as well as the world baseball classic. We take BP in the backyard whenever the weather permits (almost always here in the ABQ) and a game of catch is known to break out at any time inside or outside of the house, so look out because both the kids like to throw the heater at close range. Since our move to the ABQ and away from the Rockies and Coors Field, we were pumped when the AAA season started!
You can take your kids to almost any sporting event, but baseball is especially welcoming for families with little ones who are not inclined to sit in a seat for long if at all. There are many great reasons to take your kids to a game and here are a few of my top reasons beyond simply enjoying the sport or game itself:
1. Wild Factor: As wild and crazy free spirit myself, it pains me having to curb my kiddos fun so often. Even though it’s usually for their own good (like you are not quite big enough to jump down that giant flight of stairs) or because it’s not appropriate (like trying to climb the produce boxes at the grocery store), it still pains me to say “no” and “don’t do” for stuff I know I would have been doing as well. The ballpark offers opportunity to run wild abandon among random kids in a somewhat controlled area. The Isotopes Park has a large grassy area in the outfield where children can run free like they should…at least sometimes. My kids couldn’t get enough of rolling/falling down the grassy hills and playing spontaneous games with kids continually coming and going, running, jumping, and laughing. My daughter got into “not it” and hide-and-seek game with some older kids who played very nicely with her since she’s almost 4 and they were 8-10. She worked hard to show them she could play too. Her smile was ear to ear and she talked about playing with the big kids the whole way home.
2. Silly Factor: Sporting events, and particularly baseball games, encourage silliness on many levels. People dress in costume, sing loudly, and break into dance at anytime (my friend Drotz in particular). In a society that is so focused on how we look at all times and being “cool” in a refined sense, we often forget that the real cool kids are the ones who don’t give a hoot what you think about their mowhawk or original fashion sense or whatever it is they are doing. They just do. Here at the park, my kids can see people of all ages being silly and having a good time in front of other people. The goofiness is refreshing. Singing and dancing and acting a fool without thinking about who is watching is so important to childhood and I want to make sure we are as silly as we can be for as long as possible.
3. Teachable Factor: There are no shortage of opportunities to teach the kiddos about the world, how it works, and how we should live in it. From waiting in line, to picking up trash, to common courtesy and sharing space, valuable lessons are all around you at sporting events. We see many different faces and bodies at the ballpark. There is a great opportunity to talk to children about people who look “different” from us and learn to appreciate and respect perceived differences. Bullying continues to be a serious issue for kids of all ages, and let’s face it adults too. Places where we can see many individuals coming together for a common interest can start important discussions about our multicultural and diverse world to prevent bullying. At it’s core, bullying comes from positioning “different” as “bad.” If you look, act, dress, or live “outside the norm” you are easily targeted for invasive questioning and harassment. Bullying is not a school issue, it’s a human issue. And it will take all of us to stop it. In addition to talking bout how we should take care of each other, we can also consider how to take care of shared spaces. Sports venues, like movie theaters and restaurants, are these odd spaces where we sometimes forget to take responsibility for ourselves. After 10 years working in the restaurant biz, it’s amazing how people will trash a place because they don’t have to clean up. At the movies and the stadiums you can leave your empty popcorn box and soda cup in the aisle and someone will pick it up, but there are trash cans at the exits and since we carried the items in, we can feasibly carry them out and place them in the trash right? As we sat in the outfield enjoying the game, there was a decent amount of trash blowing and sitting around although there were trash cans everywhere. Kids as young as 18 mos can understand picking up and throwing away trash and recycling!
Learning to share space, both physically and socially, is a most important life lesson.