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Make Your Sports Fandom Local

Oct 11, 2017 by

One of the best things about sports is how they bring us together. When you’re in a stadium or at a bar cheering for the home team, you feel like you’re a part of a family. Even when you spot an opposing fan at the bar, in the airport, or on the street, you’ll know that you share a love of sports – even if you don’t quite agree on the teams. And playing sports brings us together with a community of like-minded people who love athletics.

Sports builds communities. And it can build your community. Wherever you live, your local area is likely full of opportunities to play, watch, and talk about sports. Your sports fandom can help you expand your social circles and build connections within your community. Sports can help you meet your neighbors or get involved in local volunteer organizations. Here are just a few ways to make your sports fandom local.

Take your fantasy league off-line

If you play fantasy sports, you almost certainly do so online. Apps make fantasy leagues easy to set up and manage, so there’s no reason not to use them. But fantasy apps also make it easy to join leagues with strangers and play anonymously. That can be fun, but it doesn’t build your social capital or help you get to know other members of your community.

So, by all means, use the app – but try founding a league with your neighbors or your friends in town, not just strangers or your far-flung college buddies. Have league drafts in person instead of over Skype. Have ceremonies and give out fantasy football rings to winners instead of just sending money around with PayPal or Venmo. You’ll have more fun, and you’ll also build lasting relationships.

Attend local sporting events – really local sporting events

So you love the local NFL or MLB team – great. But while those teams are a part of your civic pride, they’re still big corporate entities. They’re not local in the same way as your local high school’s soccer team or the regional cheerleading championships. And when you show up at these events, you aren’t likely to meet the athletes’ parents or the president of the team’s booster club.

Try looking for local sports events in your area that invite more community involvement. You may find opportunities to turn your sports fandom into a charitable endeavor through donations or volunteering.

Play sports yourself

Sports aren’t just for watching, of course: they’re also for playing. And while you may not be able to hit like the Major Leaguers or throw a spiral like an NFL star, you can still have a blast playing on a club team or pursuing an individual sport that gives you the chance to compete in local tournaments. From club hockey to golf, there’s a way to play virtually any sport on a casual level as an adult, and playing sports in this way can help you build strong ties to your community. Signing up for a local softball league may land you on a team of strangers who are destined to become friends for life. Playing golf with your local pals will strengthen your friendships and may lead to opportunities to play in local tournaments for fun or for charity. The people who run, sponsor, and enjoy your local casual sports leagues and tournaments are important parts of your community, and you may never meet them unless you become one of them.

So do it: join a local team. Play sports locally, and watch local sports, too. Turn your pro sports fandom into a local endeavor with your fantasy league. Make your sports fandom local, and you’ll feel more like a part of your community.

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