Sports Blogs and Community

In my opinion, there is something about community that makes everything better.  I think that is no less true when it comes to rooting for the Reds.

Let me explain.  For about two years, I was a silent reader on this blog, enjoying the easy access to plentiful amounts of information, taking sides in my head during the numerous and sometimes heated debates(/rants), and always enjoying the humor that accompanied the threads.  Sometimes, though, I felt like I was a kid stuck inside on a sunny afternoon while the rest of the neighborhood was out playing ball.  Needless to say (and I have said it before), the last couple months of active posting has been really fun and rewarding for me.  I feel like I have joined a new community.

 The purpose of this post is to share some thoughts and questions about blog communities.  First, however, I am going to backtrack a bit here to place these thoughts and questions in context.

  Eight months ago today I moved to the Dominican Republic to become an organizer.  I joined a grass-roots organizing school called “Justicia Global,” an organization based out of Santo Domingo but with growing international connections.  I won’t spend too much time here describing what we do.  Instead, I will get to the heart of our vision: we believe the collective problems require collective solutions.  In other words, if we organize ourselves, we can work together to solve our own problems and improve everyone’s lives.

 Returning now to the theme of sports blogs and community, we can all probably agree that most communities gather for a reason.  On the surface, this community, like many others, has come together around living and breathing a specific sports team.  I would like to push us to think about the reasons that we are here at Red Reporter a little further.  Here comes my first question:  What other reasons do we blog about sports?

 For me, sports has always been an escape, a distraction from the daily grind, a way to forget about what is going on with me as I drift into a world of bright lights and perfectly trimmed grass, walk off home runs and dreams of October.

 Here comes question number two:  What am I (and maybe you too) trying to escape from with sports and why?

 Thinking of the problems in our world that affect me as an individual, and that I have seen affect my family and close friends, I can pretty quickly come up with four solid things that sports have helped me escape from: 

1.     The lack of opportunities to do meaningful, well paid work, that you feel happy about doing week in and week out; or the lack of opportunity to study topics in school that you passionately have an interest in.

2.     The stress of debt accumulation in a consumer culture where costs of living are generally rising faster than wages.

3.     The knowledge that our sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, cousins and friends are fighting a poorly planned and greatly mismanaged war for ill-defined reasons (Not to mention the knowledge of the millions of Iraqi and Afghani civilians being killed, wounded, and displaced everyday).

4.     The loneliness, isolation, and sometimes violence that come with a culture organized around a “nuclear family” (This can be understood both as people who are feeling lonely and isolated within a “nuclear family,” as well as people who are lonely and isolated because they are not a part of one).

As an organizer who is now an active member of a blog community, my third and fourth questions are these:  Are my reasons for escaping to sports shared by anyone else?  What are some other things the Reds help us escape from?

Finally, I want to make clear that I understand that while baseball can be a means to escape from our lives, it can be- and is- a way to live as well.  I want to make clear that I understand that this blog community is not just a way to avoid the world out there, but is in fact a part of that world too.  Moreover, it is a fun, intelligent, creative, and informative part of this world.

 And this is where hope lies for me when I think of all of the problems we face today.  There are countless communities of people gathering, not just to support each other in their escape from “reality,” but also to build new realities together.

Which brings me to my fifth and final question: what would it mean to begin to use this blog space, or other community spaces we are a part of, to not only help endure the problems in our lives, but to help resolve them collectively?


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