By Anjali Nayak
Sitting criss-cross on the couch, my brother and I stared enraptured at the TV screen, hanging onto every pitch of the World Series. Thankfully our home team—the San Francisco Giants—finished their dominant season with a Game 5 win. From 2010-2016, Bay Area sports were at their best: Stephen Curry led the Warriors to victory, the Sharks flourished under the captainship of Joe Pavelski, and the 49ers rocked the newly built Levi’s Stadium. We spent afternoons tuning in to witness it all.
Before APUSH, WHAP, or AP Gov, there were classes with my first history teacher—my brother. He was a storyteller, describing the enchanting unwritten rules, traditions, and tidbits that must be learned. I will never forget the way his eyes lit up while watching fantasy football lineups, or during his telling of what the “correct” All-Star lineup should look like.
Looking back, I see our shared interest in sports as more than a simple pastime, but also as a means of fitting in. Back then, we both went to predominantly white elementary schools; embracing our Bay Area culture through cheering on local teams helped bridge gaps between us and our classmates’ different backgrounds. While some might look at our interest in American sports as a means of white washing or assimilation, I propose an alternative—we embraced our Indian-Americanness.
Being a keen sports enthusiast gave me conversation starters. With any classmate or peer, I had the knowledge to strike up conversations pertaining to our current regular season or playoff run. Somehow, someway, the common ground of being a fan of the same team removed any and all culture barriers to exist beforehand. The discussion no longer consisted of an Indian girl and a White boy, but rather two Bay Area natives, united by their love for the home team.
The lighthearted competition of sports plays a pivotal role in cultivating community. Sitting in Oracle park, I look around to see the stands filled with all walks of life, but together we are fans, hoping to see the San Francisco Giants win once again.