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Can Baseball Become an Addiction?

Experts explore the fine line between being a dedicated sports fan and addictive behavior.

Recovering From Addiction continued...

"Years ago all you had was radio or TV," explains Wann. "It's hard to get addicted to something that's hard to get.

Even those who admit they have a problem often find that ignoring sports leaves a gaping hole in their life.

"We have a drive to connect with something larger than we are," says Quirk, "and in many ways sports provides that. It's like a spiritual journey. Baseball is not necessarily a god for some people, but it's a part of what satisfies that yearning to be part of something bigger than they are."

Still, withdrawal is possible. Quirk, whose own experience with sports addiction prompted him to write his book, doesn't subscribe to cable television and its endless supply of sports, although he admits to checking up on the Red Sox via the Internet. "If I'm at my desk, I'll take a peek and see what the score is," he says.

But ex-addicts have to be vigilant about controlling their interest.

"I got an email update from a guy in Boston who imposed a sports blackout on himself during the playoffs because he knows how hard it is for him to remain rounded in his daily life," Quirk says. "If you recognize it has that kind of impact on you, you can at least cut down."

Lombardi also struggles to control his baseball obsession, but he admits he gets help from his wife.

"She brings me down to earth with that phrase no baseball nut wants to hear: It's just a game."

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