Are you a baseball fan? Even if you aren’t, the odds are pretty good that you’re aware of the special role the game plays in American life. Maybe you know the game as “America’s pastime.” Maybe you know the words to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Perhaps you are aware that a hotdog tastes better at a ballpark than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps you recognize the reference when someone says, “You’re killing me, Smalls” or “Juuuusssst a bit outside,” and you know the proper response to “Is this Heaven?” is “No, it’s Iowa.” You might be confident explaining that Who is on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know’s on third.
Baseball can also serve as a good metaphor for recovery.
Let’s take a look at a few ways in which the sport mirrors recovery from a substance use disorder.
Like Baseball, Recovery has a Long Season
During an NFL season, each team plays 17 games. Teams in the NBA and the NHL each play 82 games over the course of the regular season. In contrast, each Major League Baseball team plays 162 regular season games. During the season, you play nearly every single day. If the season were stretched over the course of the full year, teams would play every 2.25 days all year long.
In that way, recovery is a lot like baseball. The recovery journey is ongoing, and there is never a day when you are not working to stay sober. That said, just like ballplayers need to find ways to rest so that they have the stamina necessary to keep playing all season, a person in recovery has to find moments that allow for a quality rest. A healthy sleep schedule, a commitment to taking time away from work (this might mean vacation, but it also might mean not working late or over the weekend), an engaging hobby, and regular time spent with good friends can support your recovery and keep you going.
You Are Not Out on the Field All Alone
Keeping score at a baseball game involves a variety of numbers, letters, and special markings. Some of these can be a little confusing (Why is a strikeout marked with K? Why is a non-swinging strikeout marked with a backwards K?), but the number system is pretty straight forward. Each position is assigned a number for scorekeeping purposes. The pitcher is 1, the catcher is 2, the first baseman is 3, and so on until you reach the right fielder who is 9.
This series of numbers is a good reminder of an important fact: No one is out there on the baseball field alone. And that is true in recovery, too. Your team may include your supportive friends and family, the members of your recovery group, your recovery mentor or sponsor, members of your faith community, and doctors and therapists who are committed to help you maintain your physical health, your mental health, and your ongoing sobriety.
You Don’t Have to Hit a Home Run Every Time
Sure, home runs are exciting. Seeing a batter smash a ball over the outfield wall is one of the most thrilling things in sports. But it probably wouldn’t be if it happened each and every time a batter stepped to the plate. And it isn’t necessary for a team to win a game as long as they are doing other things right. You can win plenty of baseball games by focusing on the fundamentals—even if your team seldom hits the ball out of the park.
That can be an important lesson to remember in recovery. A successful recovery journey is made up of lots of little decisions and moments. Do you have an effective strategy for dealing with cravings? Are you getting enough exercise and restful sleep? Are you eating healthy food? Are you dealing with stress in a positive way? If you are sticking with the fundamentals of recovery, you have a great opportunity to maintain your sobriety over time.
Don’t Let Substances Keep You Out of the Sobriety Hall of Fame
If you have been following baseball over the years, you are probably aware of what is known as the “steroid era,” a period during which many famous ballplayers were using illegal performance-enhancing drugs to try to get an edge on their opponents. The players who are known to have used these substances have, by and large, been kept out of the sports Hall of Fame.
Drugs and alcohol can upend your life and keep you from experiencing the real joys of everyday living. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, we can help. The Aviary Recovery Center, near St. Louis, MO, can help you get sober and get you back in the game.