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Old News: Dopamine and Baseball

Posted By Carson Cistulli On June 18, 2012 @ 9:40 am In Old News | 8 Comments

“Dopamine and Baseball” is not, turns out, the name of Marcy Playground’s second most popular song. Indeed, it’s the name of nothing, in particular, besides this post on a ridiculous blog read by fewer than, say, .0001% of the entire world.

However, dopamine’s role in our enjoyment of baseball is, in fact, mentioned in a New York Times article from 2002 by Sandra Blakeslee which the author found himself reading this afternoon for reasons that will continue to remain mysterious — even to the author himself.

The relevant quote:

Neuroscientists say that part of the appeal of live sporting events is their inherent unpredictability. When a baseball player with two outs at the bottom of the ninth inning hits a home run to win the game, thousands of spectators simultaneously experience a huge surge of dopamine. People keep coming back, as if addicted to the euphoria of experiencing unexpected rewards.

I’m reminded now that Ken Arneson, whom I interviewed in September of 2009, made some interesting comments on this same subject.

Were we smart, it appears, we’d find a way to cultivate moments wherein large doses of dopamine were more likely to be produced. That anyone still roots for the Twins suggests, unfortunately, that were aren’t smart.


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