The Value of Baseball

By Justin Sakofs, Director of Empowerment for Families with School Age Children

As I boy, I remember heading to sporting events with my father. There were times when we would go with other family members or friends, but the experiences that stick out in my mind are those hours I spent with just my dad. Together, we would see the Mets, Jets, Army, and most often the Devils.

I must preface this by saying that my family were not diehard sports fans. I was a Mets fan, because the parking was easier than Yankee Stadium. Our house was not adorned with posters, and baseball cards would sit in their wrappers in a box under my bed, because I just thought they were cool.

Sports were about something else for us. They were about the time we would spend together. They were about the rituals we had for each game. Hockey, for example, had a special dinner before the game and the required visit to my grandfather’s on the way, where he would pop a bag of popcorn for us to sneak into the game. I remember these details, and more, as if they were just yesterday. And while hockey was fast paced and straight forward, baseball was something completely different.

We might all agree that baseball is slow, but there is a beauty to this speed (or lack thereof). Baseball is not just about the players, it’s about the people in the stands and the space in between. While the ball moves across the field we watch, speechless, intently waiting to see where it will go and how the players will react. The young ones in the stands turn to those whom they trust and ask, “What happened?” And the answers fly: “He hit it deep into left field.” “It’s a home run!” “That’s his second strike, and with three balls, this next pitch could be it…” There’s conversation, no one is shushed. My dad explained to me the ways of the game in those stands.

In today’s tech-heavy society, we’re simultaneously too connected and lacking connection. A shared experience like baseball is just what we need to personally reconnect. Minor league baseball is especially good for young children because it’s a quiet game, where we can manage the entire space and spend time together, taking in the summer air and watching a game happen, but most importantly explain what is happening. It doesn’t matter if we see every pitch or hit, or if we’re wrong or right in describing what the players choose to do. What matters is that parents and children can talk, spend time together, and find ways to connect, relax, and truly become immersed in the ball game’s environment of sight and sound.

Two years ago, my parents, my four-year old son Amit, and myself headed to Bridgewater to watch a Somerset Patriots game. It was Amit’s first game in a “big” stadium. Since then, we’ve shared more sporting events and Amit loves learning about the rules of the game and the chants as he roots for the home team. This is a magical experience for the entire family as we bond through a common experience and learn from one another.

Federation is offering a unique opportunity for you to have this experience with your children, parents, or grandchildren. Mark July 29 on your calendar when Federation sponsors a Jewish community Night at the Ballpark with the Somerset Patriots. The evening will feature a great game, ideas for making the event a learning experience, kosher food to enjoy while sitting in the stands, and activities just for us, before and after the game. Click here for details and registration.


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