SPHS’ sports fans reveal their traditions and gameday rituals

Story by Haelee Kim
Staff Writer

Illustrations by Terry Song
Co-Associate Design Editor

Wilson’s lucky jersey
Avid football fan and senior Nathaniel Wang likes to create a boisterous environment with his dad for a fun viewing experience, but he also has a necessary ritual.

“Before watching each game, I always make sure that I’m wearing my Seattle Seahawks jersey shirt, which I cannot ever wear unless the Hawks are playing that day,” Wang said.

The Seahawks are particularly special for Wang as he finds many role models on the team roster, particularly quarterback Russell Wilson.

Father-daughter bonding
Senior Maya Tanaka and her father have also bonded over Los Angeles’ sports performance this year, but for a more retrospective reason. Their favorite L.A. teams, the Lakers and the Dodgers, had won championship titles when both her father and her were seniors in high school.
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But per usual, the father-daughter duo ensures to seclude themselves away from the rest of the family during important matches and games.

“Baseball, basketball, and even hockey are one of the special things that connect us,” Tanaka said. “We don’t even have to be talking to each other during a game, but we both have that anxious gene that forces us to bounce our knee or crack out knuckles with our eyes glued to the TV screen.”

The universal piece of gum
Senior baseball player, Michael Lee, is also a fan of the Dodgers, in addition to the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Cowboys. Coming from a busy sports family, Lee is just as active on the field with baseball as in front of the TV, but there are some must-have traditions across both.

“When we watch our favorite sports teams, we make sure that we chew some sort of gum for good luck,” Lee said.

For Lee, this year has also been made special due to the successes of the L.A. Lakers and Dodgers.

“I feel great since I grew up loving the Los Angeles teams and it feels good now that the city has something to cheer about,” Lee said. “Sports overall is just something to entertain ourselves while in the pandemic — it gives the people watching a chance to escape reality for a bit.”

Untouchable shrine
For senior Los Angeles Dodgers fan Dusty Fox, the successful World Series run of the team has vitalized and provided respite from her stressful workload at school. To add a little bit of levity in the midst of tense matches, her family has a ritual at the start of every baseball postseason.

“We put all the autographs, bobble heads, and baseball cards on the TV stand, like a little shrine,” Fox said. “I don’t dare touch it until after [the season’s] done because I feel like it’s bad luck.”

Blue fever
AP Government teacher Maryann. Nielsen is renowned for her enthusiasm for the Dodgers, both in and out of the classroom. Collectively amongst her family members, however, the sports zeal is reflected and even more pronounced.

“We have season tickets, so we normally get to the stadium early, get our food and drinks, and hurry to our seats to watch all of the pre-game activities. My younger daughter likes to keep score in an old fashioned score book — pencil and paper!” Nielsen said. “We all wear Dodger gear, cheer hard, wave to the players, try to catch balls, and sing ‘I Love L.A.’ as loud as we can at the end of every victory.”

Her family is well acquainted with the stadium to a point where they find familiar faces with the ushers and security personnel. They have to make do at home in this current era, but diminishing their love for the team is an impossible endeavor.

“We just cheer hard while watching the game on TV together. We made hot dogs during one of the World Series games, but they were not as good as Dodger dogs!” Nielsen said.

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