April 26, 2010
In our modern world there are many main stream sports. (Like: football, soccer, baseball, tennis, soccer, NASCAR and recently the extreme sports.) Then there is the less main stream, but still well known sports. (Like cycling, horse racing, swimming, skiing, Indycar, MMA, Boxing, track and field, and real wrestling; not WWE.) (And yes, I realize that we can debate the categories for a number of these sports.) Then there are certain physical activities, that ESPN might even cover, that are not necessarily sports. And as the number of ballhawks continues to grow, should we consider it a sport?
First of all, let me ask you why you ballhawk? Well, as I have stated in my previous articles, I ballhawk because it allows me to snag a piece of the game love. It gives me a new way to enjoy the game I love. It has helped me overcome getting cut from my high-school baseball team; and made me realize that there are other ways to enjoy baseball. It's not only given me a new passion, but it has showed me several small details about the sport that I never even noticed. In just one year I met several people who I never would have met if I was not a ballhawk. I soon became a walking baseball almanac. I saw each baseball stadium in a different way. I now saw the whole baseball stadium as the playing field. And in a weird way I became a better person in every aspect of life.
The emotional side of ballhawking is obvious, but I'm still not convinced it is a sport. Are you? Well, what I asked you how many career home runs Home Run King Hank Aaron hit? You would instantly say 755; probably without even thinking about it. Now, what if I asked you how many career home runs you have snagged? I know that you would know that answer instantly as well. And I bet it is the same for home runs snagged in any given year. That's my point! All sports have legitimate statistics, and ball hawking is no exception. No matter how you categorize your balls, the stats are real, and nobody can dispute them!
I am starting to think ballhawking might just be a sport. Are you? But most sports have uniforms. Do ballhawks? Does dressing like a fan at a baseball game count as uniform? Well, everybody has been to a game where we don't have a rooting interest. At these games we could almost care less about who wins and who looses. So we just worry about how many baseballs we snag. But most of would wear apparel for both teams, to make it look like we are a fan of that team. Isn't that a uniform? And you can usually tell who is a ballhawk just by looking at somebody. So we know, even if we do not know each other, who is a ballhawk; and who is just an average fan. My point is that our uniforms have to make us stand out, yet blend in at the same time.
Ballhawking also requires a lot of dedication. First of all, you must commit to being the biggest fan at the game. You must arrive 3-5 hours early so you are the first person in the stadium, and you must be the last person to leave the stadium. You must commit yourself to knowing the stadium inside and out, for it is your opponent. You must be physically fit. (See paragraph below.) You must be cunning, knowledgeable, opportunistic, somewhat of a suck up, funny, bold, shy, witty, and lol even a good actor. Finally you must commit yourself to being a total baseball nerd!
But for an activity to be nominated for "sport status" it must be physical! And ballhawking is very physical. We run everywhere! We sprint at times as if the seats were a running track, hurdling seats when necessary. If you fall and bleed you push through the pain! You may fall and hit your face on a seat, but if the ball lands with in 10 feet of you, you know it is yours! You have to be in shape, and conditioning will come as the season wears on. If you do it night in and night out your body will become very sore, and it can be very mentally draining. And while there is no postseason, yet, you have bragging rights and self pride.
So is ballhawking a sport? I'm not sure. I guess that I personally consider it a sport, but I don't know if I consider ballhawking a true sport. I guess it is up to each and every one of us to decide if balhawking is a true sport.
Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com and also maintains a Blog.