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A Sporting Chance

As an adult in my 30’s, I think of myself as too mature to get lost in the Tik Tok network. Instead, I attach myself to the illusion that if I watch videos on Instagram reels, I am somehow above the whole 700 million subscribers. My wife would tell me different, as most of you also would probably say the same. As I was scrolling through the videos on instagram over the past month, I have started to see a trend happen at sporting events. Fans from opposite sides will somehow find themselves in an altercation. They will then proceed to get into a fist fight to show their dominance. Of course, there is always someone with cell phone in hand, readily available to film the whole event. My challenge with this scenario, is how do these situations happen? How does the conversation start between the two people? The one person says, “Your team sucks!”, then someone rambles back, “No, your team sucks!” As they go back and forth (for some reason assuming that either of them have anything to do with the teams success or failure), they are now in a battle of survival. Who will win the war of words? Will they even remember what it was about afterwards? What if the people lining the stands realized that they were more similar than different?

Chris Hetrick: Photographer.

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone and they spark an idea that is exactly like yours? Your body goes through so many different types of emotions at the time. You’re listening, but you’re so excited to comment that you’ve been in that same situation, that it takes every ounce of you to stop yourself from talking over the person. Your eyes light up with anticipation. Just waiting for you to scream out that you had the same feeling as them! Or maybe, you do talk over the person, because of the excitement. Can’t think of a scenario like this? I’ll give an example. In Florida, there is a supermarket store that is raved about by its residents. After moving across country and living in different states, I continue to miss walking up to that lime green colored sign for Publix. As a grocery store, it feels on point with so many things. The service is always friendly, because they actually care about their employees. The deals are always great, you somehow find things you didn’t know you even wanted in your house, but at that deal…why not? The thing locals most talk about? Publix subs. They are simple, the same as most grocery stores that have a sub shop in it. I don’t know why, but it just feels different when you bite into a Publix sub. Their perfect ratio of bread to meat and veggies on top, all freshly made to order. The excitement you feel when you get that sandwich home and start to devour it. Sound familiar to anyone in Florida? Now there are two scenarios that just happened for all of you. If you are from Florida, you probably started reading the last paragraph and had mild interest in the conversation. You then see something familiar to you that peaks your interest. When you saw either that I spoke about Florida or Publix, you then more than likely started thinking to yourself, he’s talking about me! As you continue reading, your interest is at high alert. Searching now for every morsel of evidence that I’m identifying similar to you. The next step in jogging your memory, you probably start remembering the last time you were in Publix. What was the experience like? Did you purchase a Publix sub? Was the service fantastic or did you have a different experience? All of these things go through your head and start colliding with each other. Some of you might not have even finished the article before thinking, I really want a Publix sub. This all leads to a common ground between you as a reader and me as the writer. If we met tomorrow, you would more likely say something about the article and how it made you feel. We might have never met before in our lives, but somehow we just made a bond over a similar experience. Alternatively, if you are not from Florida, nor have you experienced Publix, what was your response? Well this would depend on your relationship or interest in the conversation. If it’s another read for you while you’re waking up with your morning coffee, maybe it didn’t spark a thing. You scrolled down to the bottom, maybe even looking for another part of the article that involves something similar to how you think. Your reaction was very different because it was foreign to you. You never had the experience, so it’s hard for your mind to grasp the feeling. Which in turn results in you having a loss of connection to the story. At this point (if we met tomorrow) how would you react? Why do comedians like Jerry Seinfeld do so well? They’re relatable. They talk about things that happen to us in our every day lives. Jerry Seinfeld has the ability to take every day occurrences that happen in all of our lives, and then shift them into a comical scenario. It’s more genius than you think. When he talks about the challenges of finding your car in a parking lot or waiting for your table at a Chinese restaurant, these spark up those key triggers in your mind that make you relate to the story. Have I ever forgotten where I parked in a parking garage? Have I waited for a table at a restaurant and had the experience of someone (that came after me) getting sat before me? What were those experiences like? Can you believe that the Chinese restaurant episode is actually one of the highest rated episodes in the series? It’s literally about people having casual conversation, while they have issues waiting for a table at a restaurant. It entices the viewer to continue watching, because the scenario more than likely has happened to them before. Hanging onto every word they say, because ultimately the viewer wants to say, that’s about me! Far from being about nothing, right? My wife and I recently went to a hockey game in San Jose. After debating the safety of the situation, we ended up deciding that we needed to get out of the house. In my efforts to see a light at the end of the tunnel in 2021, I assumed that a sense of normalcy would start the year of 2022. In hindsight, I obviously know less about the world than a magic eight ball! Regardless, we were pleasantly surprised (as we parked our car) that there were far less people in attendance than we imagined there would be. Being from Michigan originally, I am of course a die hard Redwings fan, and will never change. As we walked into the arena, my wife pointed out how many people actually had Redwings apparel on. It gave a sense of connection as we would pass each other and give each other a nod. The other similarities we felt with all fans was the fact that everyone was in need of a good night out. Just getting away from the pandemic for a moment, to have a couple of beers and watch a hockey game. Continuing through the game, we saw more similarities with people. We saw people looking for houses in the Bay Area, couples teaching each other about the rules or even my wife’s equal love for ice cream with the people around us! Our comfort level increased throughout the night, because we found similarities with everyone. The event was a success, not because our team won (which sadly they lost once again), but due to the fact that we were all similar. Even as we were walking away from our seats, we were stopped by a couple of Sharks fans. They casually stated that it was a good game and the Redwings really stayed with the Sharks. They could have taken the low road and said something offensive, but instead wanted to find a way to connect. Which leads me back to the beginning conversation. What if people went into these events with the mindset that they aren’t different from one another? They take a look around as soon as they enter (instead of seeing the team across each others chest) and find the similarities between them and the packed stadium. What would happen to their brain as it triggers euphoric feelings from past experiences? Would they see things different? Would they react differently as someone cheers for an opposite team in the seat next to them? I’m not sure if it would stop the barbaric moments at sporting events or not. I just hope at one point, we all start realizing that we are all in this world together. Unless you watch Tik Tok videos, which in that case we might have to draw the battle lines.

Chris Hetrick: Author.

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