When I'm watching a game, there usually is no question about which team has my loyalty.
But not today. I ventured to the baseball diamond within walking distance from my apartment, ready to root Misaki Junior High School's baseball team to victory in the tournament. However, when I arrived at the field, I discovered the identity of Misaki's rival -- the team from Okawame Junior High.
I teach at both schools.
So of course I had to cheer for both teams! What choice did I have, really? I wanted to stay and watch the game. Not only did I want to support all of my students, it was a perfect day to watch baseball, with the weather being sunny and warm. No one had school today because of a national holiday, so it felt like a two-week late Labor Day for me. What better way to spend it than outside, enjoying the weather?
I had been told before I left Indiana that baseball is big in Japan. This is true. The tournament attracted quite a crowd, which I happily joined. As is usually the case when I'm watching a game of any kind, my attention to the sport deviated, and I began people-watching instead. I made a couple of obersevations....
#1) Tan is bad. Despite the lovely weather, I was the only person wearing shorts. In fact, most people wore long sleeves and pants. I learned that many Japanese people do not want their skin to get darker. Since watching baseball requires sitting out in the sun for a long period of time, most people covered up to avoid the sun. Or they sought shade under an umbrella.
#2) A+ for school spirit! I immediately noticed the impressive cheer block for each school. It seemed that every single student (not on the baseball team, obviously) was part of it! They would stand up and yell, had noisemakers, and always chanted the name of the batter up to bat. Oh, and both cheer blocks had a big drum, too. Although the cheering of both schools impressed me, Okawame's (pictured below) could get especially enthusiastic.
The cheering impressed me more than the game, so that's what I took a picture of!
As the game went on, I continued to cheer for everything! It was nice to be supporting both teams because I didn't have to "boo" anyone. There was no reason to get upset and no way my team could lose since I rooted for them both. :) I'm sure I confused people though. Who is this foreign girl in the shorts, and whose side is she on, anyway!?
Okawame ended up winning, 3-1. That's what happens when you have such an impressive cheering section, haha! Honestly, they deserved to win because they played better. Misaki's team had more fumbles. (That's a term I learned from watching the Colts. I wasn't sure if it applies to baseball, but it does. Did you know that "muff" is a synonym for "fumble?" Google teaches me all kinds of things!)
Although I'm athletically-challenged and sports knowledge deficient, I had a nice time watching baseball as a somewhat schizophrenic cheerleader. In fact, you could say I had a ball! :)