Creativity in the World of Baseball
May 7th 2014
What with the excitement of the first few weeks of MLB baseball, along with the NBA and NHL playoffs and the recent release of this year’s NFL ticket schedule, we’ve got a lot on our minds this time of year as sports fans – but what does that mean from a psychological perspective?
Following baseball, more so than other sports, encourages mental functions that further stimulate creative thoughts down the road. For example, when we follow a baseball game on the radio, many visual processes are at work. We’re mentally juggling the number of balls and strikes, imagining what might happen if a runner steals second base, and thinking about who is warming up in the bullpen. We’re imagining the game without any visual references, instead creating its look and feel from within our minds.
Watching baseball also involves a large number of complex cognitive operations. We need to constantly update information regarding the score, who’s injured, etc. And because it’s a game, the outcome is always uncertain. When our brains are consistently stimulated in new ways, we’re provoked to think of new ideas, and it is by relentlessly testing these new ideas that we begin to live up to our creative potential.
In general being creative is akin to playing a sport, in that it takes hours of practice to truly become great. Whether you’re a novelist or a linebacker, you need endurance, focus and drive to initiate results. Creativity requires ideas as well as the fortitude to see them through to fruition –without the ability to produce, you’re just another imaginative dreamer. Your creative muscles need to be exercised in the same way that your sporting muscles do, which means they need to be encouraged and practiced in order to flourish. Just as in sports, there is no substitute for hard work.
As Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” As sports enthusiasts, we can use our passion for sports to unlock our creative sides. Being physically active has been proven to optimize brains for discovery, and dynamic, collaborative environments (like those found on a baseball diamond) encourage us to try new things and push our physical and mental limits.
by Beth Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org)