Man (and woman too), am I hyped about providing The Tribe Daily a guest post! While the Tribe enjoyed an off day Monday, Nino and I figured today a fitting day to discuss the player who never rests. Of course I’m talking about the 10th man, the fans. I wish to detail how the passion you feel for a sports team, personally for me the Cleveland Indians, can empower you and drive you to succeed.
First though let me properly introduce myself. My name is Zachary Fenell and I’m a professional writer/author. I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan since 1995, when big bats (Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez) and slick fielding (Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton) captured my attention span at eight years old. Interestingly enough my writing pursuits stem from my love for the Tribe, but more on that soon. Currently I cover a “Cleveland Indians Fan Perspective Beat” for Yahoo! Sports (see my Yahoo profile).
Additionally I penned Off Balanced, currently available on the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Off Balanced serves as my teenage memoir exploring how having a mild case of the neurological disability cerebral palsy (CP) affected me socially as a teen. I explain cerebral palsy in Off Balanced writing, “CP, a neurological condition which ranges in severity, can make simple tasks often taken for granted, like walking and talking, difficult.” I proceed to describe my individual case with the following.
“I’m lucky. I only have cerebral palsy to a mild degree. My main symptoms include awkward gait, poor balance, tight muscles, and poor vision in my left eye. The poor vision hinders my hand-eye coordination.”
Given these symptoms, my parents didn’t allow me to play little league baseball. Every summer when Mom and Dad readied themselves to sign up my two brothers for the local little league organization I asked, “Can I play baseball this year?” And every summer I received an apologetic no. Being so young I failed to grasp an argument able to trump my parents’ “safety first” attitudes.
Perhaps never getting the opportunity to play little league baseball caused my deep attachment to the Tribe. I couldn’t bond with teammates over game experiences because I didn’t have any! Yet I found some belonging through baseball and the Cleveland Indians. I traded baseball cards with my best friend. At 10 years old I started swimming lessons and I recall always talking Indians with the instructor, a fellow Tribe fan, before classes began.
Basically Cleveland Indians baseball gave me an in at a time where I too often, thanks to my disability, felt like an outsider. By the time I became a teenager I experienced further isolation from my peers. The Tribe filled my social void. Instead of hanging out at the mall with friends or going out on awkward-filled dates with girls I stayed home and watched the Indians. Ultimately, I dreamed about playing for my home team someday. In Off Balanced I flashback,
“I found myself dreaming about running out onto Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) to a booming sold out crowd donning a white Cleveland baseball jersey reading “Indians” in red across my chest and white baseball pants to surely get stained with dirt.”
Eventually reality crashed down on me and I decided, “If I couldn’t play for the Cleveland Indians, I could write about them.” Starting my sophomore year of high school when people asked me what I wanted to do after I graduate, I’d literally respond, “Do you know Paul Hoynes, the Indians beat reporter for The Plain Dealer? I want his job!” Today I’m happy writing on a freelance basis, especially expressing my opinions about the Cleveland Indians to thousands and thousands of Yahoo! Sports readers.
In conclusion I believe the journey my Cleveland Indians fandom led me on carries an important message, sports empower. Whether you use your home team’s amazing comeback as metaphorical inspiration to keep you going during hardship or utilize a day at the ballpark as a chance for quality family time, remember to use your fandom to empower yourself.