One of my husband’s primary interests is sports. He plays with organized athletic teams multiple nights every week, and watches hundreds of hours of professional sports on television every year. Often times, my sweetie will be sitting in the living room reading a magazine, surfing the internet, playing with the puppies, or engaged in some other activity – and the TV will be silently tuned to a sporting event. He isn’t watching the action, he isn’t even listening to the plays – yet he just wants to have sports nearby. I think sports serve as a comfort to him, like a good friend who lives thousands of miles away. You only talk to the person once every few years – yet you know if you need someone, that individual will be at your side in a moment’s notice. Sports are that long-distance friend. They are always there. They are structured, yet flexible. They are rule-based, yet people-driven. They align to expectations, but also have the opportunity to yield surprises. They can provide a lovely sense of balance and predictability – yet still have space for some surprises – in a world that can feel overwhelmingly chaotic and frighteningly unpredictable.
When I met my husband, I was not very active in the sports scene. I knew the stated objectives of basketball and baseball (the most common sports that were played in my hometown), but didn’t understand the dynamics or strategies of any athletic endeavor – and this was fine by me. Yet early in our marriage I realized that if I wanted to see my husband on weekends in the fall and winter months, I’d better learn at least the basics of a handful of sports. So over the first few years of our time together I endeavored to learn the rules of a few different sports – and I have to admit that knowing how a sport is played definitely increases my interest in it. While I am certainly not an avid supporter of any professional athletic team, I will admit to turning on the TV and having it silently share a game with me – even when my sweetie is not at home.
A few years ago my sister gave my husband and I tickets to a professional football game – and I really enjoyed the novelty of the experience. While I don’t feel a need to go to another NFL game, attending the event made me realize that I should probably take advantage of the other unique sports opportunities available in this city. So last winter I witnessed a broomball game for the first time – and this weekend I attended my first professional baseball game.
For my birthday this past April, my sweetie’s gift to me was a promise of helping me accomplish a few items on my 101 list. Then last month, he asked if I had plans for the first weekend in September. When I replied that the calendar for those days was currently open, he took advantage of the gap in our schedules and secured tickets to a Twins vs. White Sox game.
A week before game day, my husband came home from work with a shopping bag in his hand. This is nothing unusual; we both work in a retail district of the city, so often one of us will run errands over the lunch hour and pick up odds and ends. However, instead of buying a shirt or tie for himself, he spent part of his lunch hour buying me an official Twins jacket (so that I could attend the game in fan-based attire). Awww…. so thoughtful!
So on a sunny Saturday in September, my husband drove us to the newly-built Twins Stadium in downtown Minneapolis…
…where I got ready to attend my first professional baseball game.
My husband wanted to make the experience as enjoyable for me as possible, so he spent a little extra money on the tickets and got us seats in the Legend’s Club. This is the “VIP” area of the arena, and offers padded seats, climate controlled lounges (where spectators can catch a break from oppressive 90+ degree summer days, or a reprieve from chilly 40 degree fall afternoons), full-service bars, upscale food options, an abundance of clean restrooms, and an overall positive, good vibe.
Clearing security and walking through the entrance that led to the Legend’s Club, I felt like I had entered an executive lounge in an airport. This VIP space had the same sleek, polished, airy, professional, we-are-here-to-get-you-anything-you-need vibe that private airport waiting rooms offer professional business travelers. My husband and I showed our tickets to one of the many friendly game attendants, and within minutes of arriving at the stadium were positioned in our cushioned seats – which not only offered our rear ends some comfort, but also provided our eyes with an amazing view:
As I sat back and smiled at what a wonderful time I was already having on this adventure, I heard a woman’s voice approaching on my right. As I turned to see what was going on, I saw a very happy, friendly lady walking towards my sweetie and I. Thinking she had a seat in our row, I was about to stand up to let her pass when she looked at me and asked, “Can I get you anything?” Um… I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, so I didn’t quite know how to respond. My husband, however, did know what this was all about, and confidently responded, “Yes, I’ll have a rum and diet, please.”
Hold on – this lady is a waitress? We get served in this area of the stadium? I was now even more impressed than before. With a tab started and drinks in hand, my sweetie and I settled back in our seats to take in the last of the on-field warm ups, and the view in general.
As I scanned the various areas of the field and the stadium as a whole, I felt increasing awe for how genuinely beautiful it was. Commercial signs (and other eyesores) have been kept to a minimum, and natural stone and wood infuse much of the structure. The space is very open and airy – it’s a bit difficult to feel a boundary of where ‘outdoors’ ends and ‘indoors’ begins. The stadium is also bathed in sunlight; only a handful of seats were ever in the shade. Fortunately for us, my sweetie chose seats that had a great balance of indirect sunshine; we felt appropriately warm, but didn’t have to squint or risk a sunburn during the three hours we watched the game. The seats, the space, the personalized attention, the happiness everyone in the area exuded (both staff and fans alike) – the energy all around me was simultaneously energizing and soothing. I felt very cared for, which allowed me to really relax and enjoy the game. Which felt fantastic!
For most sports enthusiasts, the game itself probably wasn’t a lot of fun to watch. This season the Twins are in last place and the White Sox are in first place, so this particular game wasn’t an overly competitive exhibition. But I still had a really great time. Watching a game live is a lot more fun than watching it on TV; being in the stadium, I could feel the groove of the plays (versus have a choppy experience at home where a televised game is interrupted with commercials and inane commentator banter). I also got to experience the in-between-innings “entertainment” – and I loved that it provided cute, clean fun. Sing-a-longs, kiss cams, mascot races, group stretching exercises… I liked that both kids and adults could be appropriately entertained throughout the entire ball game experience, and done so in a healthy fashion.
Despite the Twins having a poor season, during this game one of the players did hit a home run – so I got to see Minnie and Paul shake hands over the Mississippi River, as fireworks exploded behind them:
What a wonderful sense of harmony and joy!
The only thing that was slightly odd to me during this entire experience was that each time I looked to my right, I saw the building where I work:
Fortunately, most of the game-related activities took place either directly in front of me or to my left – so I was able to keep my workplace out of my mind for the bulk of the day. :) [Yes, my colleagues and I can see the baseball stadium from our offices; and no, I have never watched a game during a time when I was supposed to be working.] ;)
At one point during the eighth inning, I caught my sweetie smiling at me. I looked back at him, and grinned. He said, “We should do this every year. Make coming to a game a tradition for ourselves.” I completely agree. I think watching a hometown team in a great stadium, on a fantastic fall day, with a thoughtful and caring man, is a lovely tradition to begin.