Yesterday I was reading an article about falling participation in “casual sports leagues” (i.e. organized leagues which play all their games internal to that league, as opposed to traveling teams), and it mentioned that some of the major sports leagues were concerned because research suggests that participation in a sport was the most common gateway to being a fan of that sport on the professional level.
This raised an eyebrow (in as Spock-like a way as I can manage) because my own personal experience goes completely in the other direction. If anything, I attempted playing baseball because I enjoyed watching it. Truth be told, it wasn’t so much baseball as much as pickup games which involved a wiffle ball, tennis ball or Spaldeen… suburban adaptations of the stickball many of our parents grew up playing on the streets of New York City. Some of my friends went on to play Little League, but I was happy with the games we played in backyards or the street.
…But that’s wandering a bit from the conversation I wanted to start. I’m not really looking to prove or disprove whether or not that article’s premise was true.
I became interested in what the experiences of other collectors were, so I figured I’d just go ahead and ask…
Whichever sport makes up the bulk of your collection, did you play it as a kid?
What was the highest level at which you ever played?
Did playing make you a fan, or did being a fan make you a player?
…and if any of this want to write at length on the subject and leave a link here, that would be more than sufficient.