A converted fanatic

By Daniel Rothberg

Fans piled into Taper Gym as boys’ basketball prepared to face Chatsworth for a slot in the regional semifinals for a CIF title, and I was live blogging the contest for The Chronicle. Though I had often set up and edited live blogs on he Chronicle website, I had never actually provided the content for one. For that matter, I don’t think I had ever contributed a word to the sports section for the paper, either online or in print, before covering that game. So, it’s safe to say that I was a complete amateur.

I was pretty rusty on the lingo at first, and had an especially difficult time attempting to provide any Chick Hearn-esque color. However, as the game got going, I began to get the hang of it (thanks, in large part, to help from my co-Editor Alice Phillips ’11 who was blogging the game with me).

Throughout the game, I dutifully hammered out play-by-play updates. As the game progressed, however, I noticed that I had become less concerned with my role as an “objective reporter” and more invested in the contest as a fan, dare I say a fanatic. During especially climactic possessions, I would begin to passionately stand up to cheer on the Wolverines, until I was stopped by the startling feeling of my laptop sliding from my lap. I remember driving home that night on a Harvard-Westlake high.

It was not until this school year that I truly started to understand the importance of sports. That is not to say that I was entirely removed from the sporting world before then. After all, I had often watched professional games on television and enjoyed participating in athletic activities. In fact, at one point or another, I had even been a Harvard-Westlake athlete. I played on the volleyball team up until 10th grade and also had a stint on the water polo team in eighth grade. I was never fantastic, but I was proficient. However, up until this year, my relationship with sports was on a take it or leave it basis.

In past years, my attendance record at Harvard-Westlake matchups can only be characterized as embarrassingly weak, at best. I had been to a very meager assortment of games each year. However, especially during basketball season this year, I began attending more games. And with each game I went to, I felt a sense of pride for Harvard-Westlake that I had never felt before. It is a type of pride that may be achieved through other extracurricular endeavor, but certainly cannot be shared in the same way as it is in a sports arena.At its root, team sports are about being a part of something bigger than oneself. The individual components of a team (players, coaches, trainers, fans) are, in the end, dwarfed in comparison to what a team as a whole can represent or embody for a school or a city.

In addition, there seems to be a majestic inclusivity about sports. Sure, not everybody is fit to play (I decidedly fall into that category. But everybody can watch. Everybody. An observer at a game does not need to be a sports wonk to process the outcome of a play or possession.

Moreover, it is unique in that there are no demographic limits on who can attend a game. The old and the young are all in attendance at games. It brings together students, siblings, teachers, parents and grandparents.

As I prepare to graduate in about six weeks, I can’t help but feel that I missed out by not attending more than a few games during my other three years in high school. I wish I had been encouraged more by teachers and friends earlier in my Harvard-Westlake career to support the Wolverines, whether it be in Taper Gym or on Ted Slavin Field.

However, senior year was not too late to become a Wolverine fan. In college and beyond, I will never forget being surrounded by a sea of red while blogging and covering my first game for The Chronicle.