ADHD and baseball

Baseball wasn’t a sport that interested me when I was younger. Nor does it hold my interest as an adult. Last night at a Milwaukee Brewers game I had an epiphany of sorts about my ADHD and how I relate to baseball.

Growing up, I only played baseball a few times. I remember one time I was out in left field. Man, that was boring. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. And nothing happening. So I sat down in the outfield. Pulled out a pack of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, and started reading the comic that came with it. It was about that time that a ball rolled past me. Not sure if I ever got up to get it or not. All I know is I embarrassed the hell of my dad and he made me feel somehow inferior for not having an interest in the game.

Fast-forward to adulthood and undiagnosed ADHD. Going to live games has always been a chore for me. Not enough action on the field and too much action off the field. Even if I wanted to pay attention, take last night for instance, I just couldn’t. The batter would be up, I’d watch for a few seconds, then I’d hear something in the stands and I’d look around: there’s a group of guys all wearing the same bright green shirt, there’s some girl falling out of her halter, there’s the beer vender yelling “Beer here!” and oh, they’re starting the wave over there. What’s that? Someone brought a beach ball and the crowd is hitting it around while a stadium attendant is trying to catch it. There’s a digital LCD scroll around the stadium’s second deck advertising Miller Lite. Wait, no, now they’re advertising an Frontier Airline. Now there’s a… and the crowd goes wild and I have to turn to my wife and go, “What happened?”

Do that for nine innings and it gets rather tedious and tiring. I want to follow the game, but I’ve never been able to. There are just too many distractions at a live game. I can watch it just fine on TV, but that’s because there are people –announcers — keeping me informed of what’s going on. There’s usually an overlay showing you the score: how many outs, what bases are occupied, and the pitch count. Not to mention that they show replays of important plays that I might have missed, along with my own ability to use the DVR to go back and see what happened.

Do I still get distracted during a television broadcast of a game? Sure. I’m writing this for instance. My son, the other ADHD member of our household, is making as much noise as possible rattling clay balls in a canister, despite the number of times I’ve yelled that I’m writing and he should be quiet. But, as I said, I can compensate for my distraction with all of the helpful aspects of television I mentioned.

At a live game I get none of that. There are no announcers. Sure, there’s a scoreboard, but it’s usually in a different direction of the play on the field. And there’s just too much information there. For someone with ADHD, there’s a lot of noise on that screen. I can read all the players names. I can figure out who’s at bat. Who’s pitching. It gives a picture and some brief stats of the batter. It shows his average for the year, his average against this pitcher, what he’s done at each previous at-bat. And the crowd goes wild again and I turn to my wife, “What happened?”

So I spend the game wondering what the hell is going on and how everyone else is able to follow the play on the field without any difficulty and feeling just a little depressed because I’m always missing the plays everyone else is cheering for.

No, a day at the ballpark is anything but relaxing to someone with ADHD.

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