Illustration by Ren Rader
Last week I watched a show where the main idea was to give the viewer a basic understanding of the game of cricket. The other part of the show was dedicated to showing how dominant India is in the sport and how they have influenced the growth of it around the world. While the latter is interesting and worth a deeper dive, the former about the game of cricket is what inspired me to learn more about it.
Before learning more, I had played cricket only a number of times, although this wasd inside a gym with 30 other oblivious high school sophomores rather than on a massive circular pitch with 11 versus 11. It became very apparent to me that even though I consider myself a “sports” fan, I virtually know nothing about most sports.
Take, for instance, my understanding of tennis. My family is very into tennis. My mother, having played since she was a young girl, instilled it into our family’s lives. I am not good — at all — but I love to play. But beyond my cursory knowledge of how to play, I don’t know the history of the game or how one gets to be a professional or how long one can be a professional. When it comes to soccer, baseball, football, basketball, I understand those questions and have spent time researching them and finding some answers.
My lack of knowledge regarding tennis spreads to most sports outside of the four of which I have a moderate understanding. I have no idea how one breaks into the volleyball scene nor do I know any of the many rules that govern its play. In high school, I knew so little about volleyball that I made the immensely ignorant statement that it was “a hobby.” My family was quick to inform me I had no idea what I was talking about, and I now do not consider volleyball a hobby but rather a fun sport that is easy to dabble in but hard to master.
All of this is to say that there is so much variety to the idea of sports. It is not something just for athletes or for mega-fans who intimidate people with their “wealth” of knowledge as to why the World Series is called the World Series (it’s not because the winner becomes the best in the world). My father never played soccer growing up, but after my sister and I began to play, he became engrossed in it, learning about the game and training with us so we could get better.
He grew up in the 60s and 70s when soccer was very much on the periphery of American sports culture and nowhere near the level of attention it has garnered now. So, when his kids began to play it, instead of exclaiming like my uncle did that I was playing a “South American game” and not an American one, my father dove into learning as much as he could about something he knew very little about.
This mindset, one of curiosity and assuaging previous assumptions, obviously goes beyond sports, but it is one I think everyone should have when it comes to sports as well. Trinity has 11 different sports and 18 different teams, each full of athletes who balance life, athletics and school, and we can watch all of their games for free. I have heard many times, and I too have used the excuse, “but I just don’t understand what’s going.” Well, at some point, every single person you are watching play a sport didn’t understand it either, but they tried it anyway. So go to a basketball game or watch a swim meet and support your fellow tigers — maybe the person next to you is just as confused as you are.