Learning How to Like Sports

I feel sorry for people who aren’t sports fans. Know why? When I get up in the morning I have no idea who’s going to win the games that day. None. So I have wonderment every day, “Who’s going to win? What’s going to happen?” — Larry King


I used to think major league sports were stupid. How could a simple game make grown men and women lose complete control of their emotions? It made no sense to me. But as I get older, I started to develop more sympathy for sports culture.

Eventually, I realized it’s silly to hate something just for the sake of it. Why not try and understand what draws people to sports, and see things from their perspective?

Here is the value I learned to appreciate in sports:

1) Community

  • Sports bring people from all walks of life together. It doesn’t matter what class, race, or creed your belong to. Anyone can share the bond of being a fan of a certain team. It’s a beautiful thing to see fans bonding who otherwise would have nothing in common.

2) Stories

  • We seem to have a natural desire for great storylines. Classic themes such as sacrifice, rebirth, and redemption play themselves out time and time again in sports. One could argue that the story of some team coming together to surmount incredible odds might hold its own with the plots of many classic novels.

3) Distraction

  • The world is infinitely complex, beyond our comprehension. It gets exhausting trying to grasp the limits of human understanding. But sports help reduce the world down to size. Instead of grappling with our existential angst, we can appreciate the simplicity of a ball, field, and two teams trying to score.

4) Novelty

  • Every game is an opportunity to be surprised. No outcome is automatically guaranteed. Anything could happen on any given day. That’s what makes sports exciting. The occasional upset or underdog story keeps us engaged and entertained when life can otherwise seem monotonous and routine.

5) Catharsis

  • We all have to deal with stress, pain, and suffering. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like too much to bear, and you just want to scream out. Sports offer a healthy environment and context for people to go crazy. You might see a fan lose it after a bad call, when really they’re venting because they just got laid off or a loved one passed away.

And there are probably a million other reasons to appreciate sports, these are just the ones that stood out the most to me.

So the bottom line is this: You don’t have to have a cynical view of sports, like I did as a teenager. Don’t let stubborn pride keep you from appreciating the positive aspects of this cultural phenomenon. Sports can bring people closer together, and offer some relief and distraction from a stressful world. Sure, it might be silly to let your emotions hang on the whims of a game…but hey — it’s something to do!

So allow yourself to have fun and get caught up in a game. Pick a team to follow and cheer for. You might just become a crazy super fan!

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