It seems strange to be writing about a British institution while in Manhattan, but stay with me on this and I promise it will come together.
On the Saturday before I came out to the US I opted for a quintessentially English day with a trip to Wimbledon. It was Ladies’ Finals Day so my lovely friend and fellow fitness fanatic Louise and I packed up our picnic hampers (and umbrellas) and headed court side.
Our first port of call was the boys’ semi-final where we watched the French number eight seed Johan Sebastien Tatlot play the number six seeded American Stefan Kozlov.
The boys were pretty evenly matched, which made for good watching. However, Kozlov remained more composed throughout and seemed to be able to keep returning whatever the Frenchman sent his way. He won the first set and although the second set went to a tie-break, and for a while it looked like it would go to three sets, he just managed to pull ahead to win through.
They finished just in time for us to hotfoot it over to Murray Mount to catch the women’s finals on the big screen, while tucking in to our picnic.
As you may know, the game was over almost as soon as it began and we felt strongly for the young Eugenie Bouchard, who was clearly overwhelmed by the occasion.
Excitingly, when the match finished, we were interviewed by ABC from beneath our umbrellas (as the heavens had well and truly opened by this point), and while I just smiled and nodded, Louise wooed the interviewers with her insights into the game.
Although I’m not normally a big sports spectator (why just watch when you could play, right?) I found myself invested in every game. The proximity to the players, the ability to see their faces and hear their responses enhanced this sense of involvement, as did the atmosphere that filled each court.
A similar sense came to me watching the Mets play at Citifield last week.
Here I was converted from baseball novice to die-hard Mets fan in just a few hours.
The Mets, renowned for their losing streak, foster a pretty loyal fan base and the atmosphere and enthusiasm for the team was contagious.
At the gate we were given free t-shirts in the team colours of orange and blue, and stocked up on drinks and snacks before taking our seats in the enormous arena.
Sean, who had kindly taken me to the game to satisfy my New York experience whim, was great at explaining the rules and making sure I cheered at the appropriate time. And it was amazing!
While I’d still always rather be on the field than on sidelines, with all of this I have to admit I’m rather a spectator convert. You get the excitement and comradeship of playing with a team, but with the added bonus of not actually having to be able to play that particular sport (my tennis is abysmal and I’ve not swung a baseball bat since my childhood summers spent on British beaches in the rain with my family).
I think I may have a future in spectating yet. Let’s go Mets!