- NotGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/not -

Old News: Dopamine and Baseball

“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.