“Surviving” At a Ballgame Alone

I first must defend myself. I have friends, but as anyone who has them knows, they are not always available to spend time when and where you are. In recent years I have become more and more comfortable with the concept of doing things alone. Most have eaten a meal at a restaurant or gone to a movie solo, but recently I did something for the first time: went to a ballgame without anyone else.

My intention was not to go to the game with the intention of writing a “survival piece” for individuals attending games unaccompanied; it came to me after I was already there when I noticed I was behaving differently than I would normally. So here are my suggestions for how to get the most out of a sporting event when by oneself.

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  • Be restless

Normally you get to the game, get your food or drink, find your seat, and don’t move except to hit the rest room or refill. The seat is almost your enemy if there is no one next to you. Whether you’re at the park or stadium for the first time or the 100th, you probably haven’t seen the way the game looks from every angle or visited every concession stand. So move around, switch seats (I do think this varies depending on the sport, especially since ushers seem more strict at football games than other events) break the habits that we as human are so susceptible to.

  • Get something crazy to eat

You know that footlong hot dog piled high with pulled pork and cole slaw that no one can eat gracefully? Now is the time to get it. You are not with anyone, there is no one to impress (hopefully you didn’t come to the game to try and pick someone up). Go crazy, get messy and become one with the game and your meal.

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I rather enjoyed this pulled pork and slaw dog at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
  • Strike up at least one conversation

You never know who has a story. That guy wearing a hat of the visiting team might actually be from a city you have been to. The usher or beer vendor might not have had a chance to have a meaningful conversation all day. You could make someone’s day, or it could end up lasting five seconds. Either way, it’s always nice to talk to someone new.

  • Appreciate the game

You are at a sporting event and there is nothing to tear you away from the action. Get in the nuances of the game. Watch the third base coach give the signs. Observe the defense pre-snap. Try to follow the back cuts and ball screens to identify plays before they happen. If that might be too intricate for you, watch the mannerisms of players and coaches on the sidelines (or the cheerleaders). Immerse yourself.

  • Take pictures

Everyone posts pictures to social media these days, and sometimes it’s hard to get a good shot. There are not any strings attached to you, so move around to different parts of the venue and see if you can get a shot that no one on your Instagram feed has managed before. Plus, you will have things to show to your friends/family when they ask what the heck you did by yourself at a game.

Have any other must-do things when you are solo at the game? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @ScottManze & @RiverCityRogue.