It’s sportsball season in both the US and the UK and I’m sure all over the world. Honestly, when is it not sportsball season? Though with the advent of the warmer, sunnier weather, I cannot help but think back to long summers spent going to baseball games and playing stick ball in the backyard. I suppose that’s one of the reasons, I thought an episode about sports would be fitting for the May podcast.
In addition, Jeremy finished reading a basic guide to baseball not too long ago given to him by my dad when we were last in America. While he was reading, it was fun to talk about the similarities and differences between cricket and baseball and some of our discussions led to evenings in front of YouTube looking up famous clips like Bobby Thompson’s home run to clinch the pennant for the Giants in 1951 and the nail-biting 2005 Ashes series which saw England triumph over Australia. It seemed a perfect subject to cover in our podcast about cultural similarities and differences.
I’m not sure I would describe myself as a “sports fan.” Throughout my life, I have enjoyed aspects of sporting life and culture. As a young child, I remember my family participating in a football pool during football season. (American football, I should say). I tended to make my picks based on team names. I liked teams that had animals in their name and I didn’t like the Giants because my brother liked them. What can I say, I was a bit of a brat. I didn’t enjoy watching sports on TV though it was a mainstay in my house owing to my parents’ love of sports. Then something changed when my parents got season tickets to our local AA Baseball Team. I became, what I can only describe as a “die-hard baseball fan.” I had jerseys, hoodies, t-shirts, hats, you name it. We went to every game and often stayed through freezing nights, sweltering afternoon games, and even the occasional downpour. Then, as is the way with children and obsessions, that, too, changed when I went to college for singing and music education.
All things considered, I would much rather participate in sports than watch a game live, and I would much rather watch a game live than I would watch a game on TV. I consider myself an athlete in some respects. I run and I have been known to frequent CrossFit boxes. I enjoy cycling and swimming and I have it in my head to do a triathlon before I turn 40. I’ll be one of the first to say yes to a game of pick-up cricket in the park and do tend to be a touch competitive, though quietly so. I love watching documentaries about running, the Olympics, and I have been known to watch coverage of past triathlons and videos on swimming technique on YouTube.
So despite my non-sports fan self-identity, I do see the value in sports and I absolutely recognise the cultural context in which sports viewing and participation sits. It’s sort of what Jeremy and I really wanted to get at in our conversation for the podcast.
It was also truly wonderful to be able to sit down and interview Alex while he was visiting from America. We had a good deal of fun discussing being international students and our time in Durham and beyond. We talked long after I had pushed stop on the recorder and it’s clear that our experiences in the UK had changed both of our lives. I think what sticks out right now as I write this, is that permanent connection you build with another place when you live there for a certain length of time. Even were I to spend the rest of my life back in the US, the UK would remain an important part of me; something which I could never separate from myself nor my identity.
And for all you who are wondering, no, I still have not tried a flapjack here in the UK.