My love for sports is unquestionable and a ballpark is one of my favorite places. How does cerebral palsy fit into this equation? One of the things people might not consider is how difficult it can be moving around inside a stadium. Have you noticed the different angles of the seating sections? The higher one sits inside a stadium the steeper the stairs become climbing to your seat. As a fan gets higher in a ballpark the aisle becomes smaller making it more difficult to move past people getting from the stairs to a seat. All of these subjects enter my mind when I’m asked to an event or when purchasing tickets. I think about the stadium we would be going to, where is the seat location, how difficult will it be getting to those seats, and after those things are factored in, is it worth going.
It has always been easiest to sit on the end of any seating aisle. It allows me the luxury of not concerning myself with moving past people I don’t know. While sitting at a game I may need to get up and use the restroom. When considering moving from my seat, I think about the number of people I would need to move past, whether the aisle is wide enough for me to balance while moving through, how many drinks or handbags may be in the way for me to step over, and do I think I have the balance to step over them. If sitting in the upper deck of any stadium, in a middle seat of a crowded row, I know there is no chance of getting up to move. The aisle will be too narrow and the stairs walking down to the breezeway will be too steep. If I do think about making an attempt during the game, my anxiety about loosing my balance in close quarters keeps me in the seat. I know when the game ends the people will file out slowly providing me time to stay balanced. Staying seated reduces the panic inside about attempting to move.
A couple months ago I was at a college baseball game. The seats were toward the middle of the row giving me pause about moving. It’s funny that in my mind I can still remember the three people who sat between me and the aisle, or me and freedom. It was a warm afternoon and would’ve been nice to get up and move around, but fear kept me in the seat. Around the seventh inning I had enough baseball and heat for one day, so we got up to head out of the ballpark. As I excused myself and moved past the three fellow fans nice enough to stand for us to move past I was struck by something. My balance was shockingly impressive. I didn’t ever remember having so much control of my body when moving past people inside a stadium. The aisle wasn’t too narrow, but we were sitting on benches and near the top of a small stadium. I was shocked how easily I moved out of the seats and continued out of the ballpark. After leaving the stadium I commented to my brother about my astonishment who replied by saying I looked more steady than usual moving around.
It all comes down to the time put in improving the affects cerebral palsy has on my body. Last summer I decided to make a change in my training routine by working with a different personal training. As we work from week to week improving my strength and balance it becomes difficult to notice improvements. However, when placed in a situation like moving around inside a stadium the advancement of my strength becomes apparent. When I rose and moved past the people beside me the ease and strength of movement was shocking. It felt almost like the ability came out of thin air, but then I think about all the hard work put in to stabilize my body. I become thankful for the ability to improve the affects of cerebral palsy making it easier to enjoy something I love like the ballgame.