From the sideline

Column: Work and play can collide

amoody@newsobserver.com, aspecht@newsobserver.comMay 11, 2013 

Few people would view going to an athletic event the equivalent of doing work.

Most people going to games are doing so to get out of the house for a fun, sometimes relaxing, outdoor activity – ideally on a sunny day – or to enjoy pulling for their favorite team or family member in action.

As someone who actually goes to games as part of their job, however, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t times when I am lured more by my couch than by the opportunity to attend a sporting event for the sole purpose of watching.

I’ve had to choose between those two options a fair amount lately, since all kinds of sports leagues are running full throttle in the spring season. My church’s softball games, in particular, and the input of friends have left me contemplating both sides of that decision.

On one side of the spectrum, there’s the mentality that I cover games all the time, so why would I want to get off work and go right back to a game? Some of my church friends have been sensitive to that notion in asking if I wanted to meet them at a softball game, saying, “But you wouldn’t want to get off work just to go right back to what is essentially work to you – duh.”

I can see the logic in that. At times, they are asking me if I plan to attend a church game on the same day I covered a sporting event, and I’ve almost always worked a game within the last day or two before any given church game. There are times when I’d simply prefer to take a timeout.

Those same friends have also brought up another school of thought – that I could view the church softball games as fun and relaxing because they present a rare situation where I can join others as a normal spectator, for a change.

I can also see the sense in that. There’s no keeping tabs on who hit what where, or how many times. There’s no keeping track of what photos I’ve taken that I would consider worthy of printing.

Heck, I don’t even have to pay attention to the whole church game if I don’t want to. There are no consequences in choosing to engage in meaningless conversations or joke around with peers like normal spectators often do.

A great church softball game that came down to the last few pitches Tuesday night was a great reminder that working games had not taken the fun out of going to games on my own free will. After all, an enthusiasm for sports – working the games or not – is what led me to do the work I do to begin with.

There are going to be times when it is more reasonable for me, just like anyone, to relax after a day of work than go to a game. Fatigue would be the exception, not the rule.

It’s fitting that a church softball game got these wheels spinning in my head. I played several sports growing up, but my earliest memories around anything sports related are of attending church league games at Millbrook Exchange Park in Raleigh.

I had as much fun watching the men on the church softball team play, joking with friends and mocking controversial calls Tuesday as I did when I was a kid.

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