Migraine Minefield 2: The college basketball game

Migraine Minefield 2: The College Basketball Game

As a lifelong tall person, I’m used to being asked one question pretty frequently: “Do you play basketball?” As I’ve gotten older, the question has turned to “Did you play basketball?” I guess this means it’s pretty obvious I’m not young enough to be in high school or college sports anymore (and not buff enough to be in the WNBA, surely). My answer is, “Yes, but never seriously, and not for long.”

My sister, who is a couple of inches taller than me (and never lets me forget it) played basketball more seriously and for a much longer time than I. She follows several sports and, try as she might, usually can’t convince me to join her and friends to watch college football on the weekends. One sport we do enjoy together is women’s basketball. When I was 14 and still playing ball, we even attended one of the Women’s Final Four games in Atlanta—that was pretty exciting.

Migraine minefields aka trigger filled events

These days, my sister has season tickets to the Lady Dawgs games. The Lady Dawgs are the University of Georgia’s rather impressive women's basketball team here in Athens. A couple of times a year, I go with my sister to see a game. It’s so much fun to get caught up in the excitement of the crowd, and to be at a venue small enough that no seat is a bad seat as far as the view goes—you can catch all the action.

You can also catch all the lighting, sound effects, noises, and smells.

For me, the Lady Dawgs games are exciting, but I sometimes have to pass up the opportunity to attend for fear of triggering or exacerbating a migraine. You see, a college basketball game is one of my Migraine Minefields.

I’ve written about some migraine minefields before: theoutdoor summer festival, the holiday season, and even jury duty. Once I called a visit to an Irish pub a “trigger party”—same concept.

Migraine triggers at a sports event

Here are just a few things at a college basketball game that can trigger a migraine attack or worsen an episode that has already begun:

  • flashing lights
  • massive overhead bright lights, including fluorescents
  • huge TV screens with promos so bright they have strobe-like effects
  • loud music blasted on speakers all around you
  • cheering/screaming/yelling
  • whistles, beeps, boops, bells, and more
  • steep stadium-style seating that can trigger vertigo
  • and, if you’re really unlucky, a neighbor who has really strong cologne or perfume on

I’m sure there are more things I can add next time attend a game in a few months’ time.

As it is, I tend to bring earplugs and a baseball cap to the games. Even with those tools, I occasionally close my eyes during certain lighting effects and have been known to cover my ears, adding an extra layer of protection on top of the earplugs.

Have you had similar trouble at a sporting event at any level? What sorts of triggers did you encounter? Do you still attend trigger-party sporting events despite the fact that you may end up with a migraine? Why or why not? 

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