The low-cost joy of playing (or watching) sports

Sporting events can be a great gateway to inexpensive social activity in many different ways, Hamm writes.

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters/File
New England Patriots fans react as they watch the final moments of the NFL Super Bowl football game against the New York Giants, at Jerry Remy's Seaport in Boston, Mass., in this February 2012 file photo.

Sporting events provide a wonderful and extremely low cost opportunity for social interaction. Whether you’re talking about viewing professional sports on television, viewing local sports live, or even participating in sports, sporting events can be the backbone of a great day with friends and family.

For example, we host a potluck Super Bowl party each year, where people come to our house bearing a dish or snack. Although the game is on for people who are interested, there’s usually a game or two being played elsewhere in the house for people who are not interested.

We also sometimes get together with a lot of friends and play a sport on a warm summer afternoon. The most preferable option is disc golf (which is free as long as you have a disc to toss), but we’ve participated in many other games and sports, too.

Although we’ve not participated in a while, many people turn local sporting events, such as high school football, into social events, going to the game in large groups, sitting together, and using the game as an opportunity to both enjoy the game and to socialize.

All of these options provide great opportunities for low-cost entertainment and social interaction.

How do you get the ball rolling on these things? It’s easy, really.

Most of the times, social events are led by the people that suggest them. If you find yourself in a group of people whose social interactions revolve around expensive things, just suggest one of these options.

What if you don’t like sports in any way? Recognize that much of the time, sporting events merely serve as the background to a low-cost social occasion. If you host such an event, make sure there’s plenty of room for things that don’t involve the sporting event. Almost every truly enjoyable Super Bowl party I’ve ever attended involved at least one table of people playing games.

If you’re really into participating in the sporting events yourself, start or join a sporting league with a group of friends. The cost is usually minimal, especially when spread out among a lot of people, and it provides many afternoons of fun.

Within thirty miles of where we live, there are adult leagues for almost every sport you can imagine, from soccer to volleyball, from softball to Ultimate Frisbee, from disc golf to normal golf. Whatever activity clicks with your social group, get involved.

Sporting events can be a great gateway to low-cost social activity in many different ways. Just keep your eyes open for opportunities in your lives.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. 

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