Every year in April, Major League Baseball starts up and something worth examining happens. For most clubs/ teams in baseball the Opening Day game ends up being the biggest and most popular game of the entire season . To use our home team Colorado Rockies as an example, attendance is 2-3 times what it is on any normal busier weekend games during the summer. The price on the resale market can sometimes exceed 2500% for $4 rock pile seats. Some fans even camp out overnight to get cheap these cheap rockpile tickets to save money they want to go so bad. This wouldn't be so odd for any other sport except that for baseball it is for a few reasons. 1) Baseball regular season is 6 months long and 162 game season (81 of those are played at home). The outcome of the first home game of the season is worthless to the entire season and playoff implications. This one game annually represents one half of one percent of games played in the regular season. All other sports should have a heavier emphasis on the first home game but come nowhere near as popular as baseball. NFL football has only 10 home games a season and every game actually counts towards the playoff hunt.
Other clubs aren't all as popular as the Rockies but even for the smaller teams this game still remains the most popular of the season. Watching this event closely over the past four years I've come to the conclusion that this opening Day phenomenon has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sport of baseball itself. Many who attend have a tradition of going and don't care or even remember who wins from year to year. It's more about Spring awakening, changing of the seasons and coming out of hibernation. The start of something new. Better weather, increasing social life that may have been lacking in the months before. I've even seen fans that didn't actually see many plays of the game even though they attended and even more who watched less of the game who celebrated at the bars around the stadium. This celebration isn't limited to one demographic either. If you look around the day of you can see dad's taking infant children, Senior citizens, college kids, and young professionals many of whom won't attend more than a game or two for the rest of the season. This game is about a party, the coolest one in town that is consumed by the entire city of the team. Everyone recognizes it, workplaces recognize is and use it as employee appreciation days to takes employees to games. Congress at the capital shuts down for the day to attend the game. Its the biggest holiday that's not really even officially a holiday and everyone is enjoying it. The phenomenon grows every year and next year maybe you'll look around differently if your involved in any way and realize just how special and odd the whole experience is.
Photo by Helen Richardson, The Denver Post