One of the first birthday parties that I can remember having was down at Veterans Stadium for a Phillies game. My birthday is around emorial Day, when school is pretty much done and baseball season is just starting to come into full swing. My mom and dad packed a case full of sandwiches and candy, picked up three of my best friends and piled us in the back of the station wagon. I don’t remember who the game was against, whether or not the Phils won or much of anything else for that matter.

But I do remember one thing: it was mini bat day. Each of us got a small wooden bat when we handed in our tickets, and my dad took a picture of us with them in our seats. More than a decade later, I still remember that picture being taken. More importantly though, so do my friends. All of them remember that picture – and all of them still have their bats.

Come to think of it, many of the best memories that I have with my friends from high school and college have come watching a sporting event of some kind. It has been huddled around a small TV with three guys, yelling and screaming at the players in a vain attempt to get them to pass the ball. It has been in a Superbox surprise party with a whole mess of people I never imagined I would see. It has even been watching SportsCenter with my best friend at 2 a.m. even though we had seen it twice already and none of the highlights had changed.

In these ways and more, sports have been an amazing bonding experience for me, especially since I got to Georgetown. I guess out of all the rambling and reminiscing of a senior who can’t figure out how he got so old so fast, I have this advice to give: sports, in person or on TV, have got to be one of the best ways to make and to spend time with friends.

When you have a buddy who loves sports, regardless of where you come from or who you root for, you always have something to talk about. You also have someone to throw a ball around with. Find a kid who likes baseball and head over to Copley Lawn. You may even impress a sunbathing co-ed with your curveball, you never know.

Sometimes, it’s even more fun to have a friend who loves a team you hate. I live with Mets and Giants fans. I spent the entire Sixers-Pistons series screaming some unspeakable phrases at my only friend from Detroit. My parents went to Villanova, for crying out loud! You don’t think me and my pop get into it during the Big East basketball season?

In all of the “where are you from’s” and “what school are you in’s,” you are bound to find a couple of people that like the same teams that you do. Remember these people. Actually listen to their names (believe me, it’s harder than you think) and see if they want to get together to watch a game sometime.

Spend five dollars to take the MARC train to Baltimore and head up to Camden Yards. Check out the ESPN Zone downtown; they have more TV’s than you could even imagine. Buy student tickets to a basketball game and sing the Fight Song. If you don’t learn the Fight Song at NSO, you can learn it at MCI Center. Sit on the hill outside Harbin and watch a lacrosse game. Jump in a pickup game at Yates.

As a Georgetown Hoya, it is part of your job as a student to support Hoya sports. Grab some people from your floor and take Saturday to go to a football game. They’re free. Walk around the parking lot and check out all the people there before the game. Talk to some of them.

There are countless ways to spend time with a friend and a game. Why else do you think there are so many sports bars? Sure, 10 cent wings and happy hours help, but it’s the social nature of watching a game that makes the sports bar the piece of Americana that it has become.

As freshmen, you’re going to meet a lot of people. That’s a given. The ones that stay your friends are usually the ones that you share some sort of meaningful experience with. Sports are an amazing way to share a common bond with another person, be it loving one team or hating another, it brings people together. Take some time, watch a game, argue about who is the best shortstop in the AL. You’ll be glad you did later.

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