Ever since I was a child, attending sports games has been my favorite. Since I am from Chicago, I always love watching the Bears, Bulls and Cubs play in person and cheer for them at the game. Attending sports games is like a game itself for sitting with fans is its own game aside for the actual competition itself. Meaning, the way fans participate in the game can truly be compared to a game. Regardless of what the sporting event is, just being in the atmosphere of the crowd makes the experience incredible. However, the experience of attending sports games is different for each sport. Over the past year, I have attended many sporting events, but in particular a Chicago Cubs game and a Michigan Wolverines basketball game. As I reflect on both experiences, the difference between the experiences is truly blatant. In my experiences, it has become clear to me that attending baseball games reflects the ideas of Huizinga’s definition of play and basketball games reflect the ideas of Dunning’s definition of sports.
As I sat in the bleachers with my friends at the Cubs vs Pirates game, I was not focused on the game at all. In fact, I was more focused on the conversations with my friends then the actual games itself.
Of course, the occasional home run and diving play by the shortstop was cool to see, but I simply was not immersed in the game at all. What I was more involved in was having a great time with my friends in an amazing atmosphere at Wrigley Field. The reason why attending the cubs game or any baseball game is compared to one of the points in Huizinga’s definition of play is because one of the points Huizinga makes is that playing a game is free, for you are not truly bound to anything. Sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field made me feel at ease. I felt no pressure to pay attention to the game and was simply able to relax. In general, every baseball game is like that. Fans love going to baseball games because there is a relaxing atmosphere to it and on top of it theres also some exciting plays to watch. Since baseball is such long game, it allows fans to pick and choose when they want to pay attention, which gives them the feeling of freedom that Huizinga describes of being at the game.
As I stood the entire game in the “Maize Rage” section at Crisler arena to watch the Michigan Wolverines play University of Detroit, I was focused on the game the entire time.
To my surprise, the game was way closer than I thought for I thought Michigan was going to win by a significant amount of points. Even if the game was a blowout I would still have maintained the same attentiveness. Attending the Michigan basketball games (I have been to two now) is an incredible experience, for every fan is truly into the game. The game of basketball draws each fans attention for the most part of the game because possession after possession there is an exciting play. There are so many types of exciting plays in basketball such as dunks, three point shots, blocks and steals. Every possession puts fans on the edge of their seat, regardless if it is a playoff game or simply a regular season game. Basketball is a quick, fast moving game that is able to maintain everyones attention because the competitiveness of the game. Basketball games reflect Dunning’s definition of sports because Dunning believes that sports are extremely competitive and should always be played to win (Dunning, Dynamics of Modern Sport). The fan experience at basketball games reflects Dunning’s ideas because fans are apart of the game in a competitive fashion, for every play counts. There is no significant amount of time, contrary to baseball, to chat with your friends because each play is significant. In a way, watching basketball lacks the freedom that baseball has because fans are more concerned about each outcome of the possession in basketball games.
My experiences at both games were amazing. I love being in the crowd and just simply immersed in the atmosphere of sports. Both baseball and basketball games are very fun to attend, but I would have to say that competitive atmosphere of basketball makes it significantly more fun to attend. Sports games are so much fun and I am so excited for the next Michigan basketball game. Go blue!