Why We Watch Sports - And It's Not What You Think
Whether you want to believe it or not, we like to watch sports
for very different reasons than you may think. In fact, the
real things that cause us to like sports are in every person,
whether we like sports or not. What things can we learn about
human nature by simply looking at our fascination with competition?
The answers may surprise you. Not only are the answers interesting
in themselves, but they may just help you in other ways too.
There are some fairly straightforward and obvious explanations
for why we like sports to be sure. Sports teach us about loyalty,
perseverance and honor. It gives us a way to bond, it's cathartic,
and we identify with teams and players. We live vicariously
through the players we watch. We have our favorite players,
and there are teams we've grown up rooting for because our
brother or dad used to love them, and now we still root for
them today. Or we may follow a sport now that we used to play
as a child.
But there are some deeper, more powerful and fascinating reasons
We're All Just Big Children
Whether you want to believe it or not, all adults are just
big children. We're all just big kids. We just hide our true
feelings and thoughts with highly developed skills (or at
least most of us do). We still want to belong or be accepted
by our peers, we all still want to be loved, we still feel
emotional pain, and we still find ourselves giving in to immediate
gratification when we know better. And yes, some of us still
lie and cheat in our normal day to day lives.
We certainly hide things better and often successfully 'act'
as if we don't care about belonging, or love, or pain, or
whatever. Deep down inside we are a little more mature and
wise, but basically still just children. We may not say it
out loud anymore, but we still think to ourselves sometimes,
"That's not fair!" We would rather play than work. Some may
argue, depending on whether they pee standing up or sitting
down, that this is especially true for men. Maybe that's why
there are more men sports fans than women.
You see, watching sports gives us a perfect, safe and secure,
black and white, little microcosm of life. Following a player,
team or game allows us to experience ups and downs and a whole
array of emotions, just like in real life, but we aren't actually
And unlike life, sports and games are generally fair! There
are rules and a crystal clear framework, or paradigm that
all the participants and spectators know about. There are
never any monkey wrenches thrown into a sports game, like
the rules changing mid-game for instance. If rules are broken,
the offender is penalized. They don't frustratingly get away
sometimes like in real life.
At the end, there is an unambiguous winner and loser. We get
to pretend that the game we're watching is life, where everything
is perfectly fair, everyone plays by the rules and everything
Children tend to think of things in much more black and white
terms. It is only through living and maturing that we realize
that all of life is a series of grays. But we all still long
for a simpler and easier life. When things are only seen in
black or white, things indeed seem simpler and easier, but
life isn't so clear-cut.
This helps explain why politicians who break their platform
down into simple sound bites and into terms devoid of complexity
often do better than politicians who talk about life like
it really is, a complex, interrelated world of nuances.
Watching sports allows us a temporarily safe and socially
acceptable way to be more like our true nature, and our true
nature is frighteningly childlike. So the next time you deal
with a difficult person, remember that they are just a large
child, like you and everyone else, and maybe that knowledge
will help you deal with them a little more easily.
What do watching a horror movie and sports have in common?
Ever wonder why so many people, including maybe you, enjoy
watching horror movies so much? They provide a safe way for
people to experience high levels of suspension without actually
being in any real danger. Sports can be the same way. Again,
watching sports allows us to enter a perfect world where the
suspenseful outcome has no bearing on our real lives (unless
you have a nasty sports gambling problem of course).
People love drama, suspension, and resolution, which are all
elements inherent in sports. In fact, the closer the game,
the more suspension there is. If we identify with a player
and he wins, we are vicariously happy for the success. However,
if the player's team loses, we feel the defeat a little as
well. But our lives are unaffected. And sports announcers
usually only add to the drama and suspension.
A sports game is a sort of story. There is a beginning and
an end. There is a protagonist (your team) and an antagonist
(the other team). There is a scene and setting, the stadium
at noon, and there is a plot, which is the action. Only after
the games ends, and depending on if your team won or not,
is it decided to be called a fairy tale ending or a tragedy.
Reptilian Brain and War
Whether you want to believe it or not, humans are a lot
closer to nature and the animal world than most people like
to think. We're not just close to nature; we're a part of
it! Evolutionarily speaking, we are much closer in time to
our unintelligent animal ancestors than we are to a transcended
sentient species apart from nature. Our behavior is guided
much more by our 'primitive brain' than our more recently
developed neocortex, which is the seat of our intelligence.
The primitive brain, or lower brain function, deals with fight
or flight behavior, hunger, fear, and sex, among other things.
A common, yet erroneous concept is that the human brain is
the result of billions of years of evolution. Our primitive
or reptilian part of the brain is that old, but our brain's
extra large neocortex, the thing that separates us from other
mammals, came about only a couple million years ago, a mere
drop in the evolutionary bucket. The neocortex has not had
much time to develop, and so our primitive brain plays a significant
role in our lives.
Our basic flight or fight mentality is manifested in sports.
We can relate, on some deeper and unconscious level, with
the guy running with the football towards the end zone and
being chased by a pack of angry men. We can understand what
it feels like to check another player in hockey and slam him
into the boards. Or we can sympathize with the NASCAR driver
who gets passed by a competitor, but throws it into a higher
gear and chases after him.
Our primitive desire for dominance is represented in sports.
When our team wins, we experience a sort of dominance over
the opposing team and their fans.
Our predatory nature is lit up when we see a linebacker following
a running back through a mass of football players, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike his prey with a tackle. Watching
someone chase the man with the ball in basketball, soccer,
or baseball affects us in similar ways.
Our tribal instincts are fulfilled by sports. We all want
to belong to something; it's a basic human need since we are
such social animals. We identify with a team like our ancestors
would identify with their tribe. This is especially true for
the Western world's modern man, where community has taken
a back seat to independence.
Our primitive warring nature is satisfied by sports. There
seems to be an innate desire for war, even in so-called 'modern'
man. Indeed, look at the world today and how many current
wars are going on, and you'll see how far we are to real peace.
Pathetically, that last statement holds true for almost any
time in history, regardless of when you're reading this. Again,
this goes back to the fact that we are ruled more by our 'primitive',
survival-driven, fight or flight brain than our reasonable
and intelligent 'modern' brain.
Every sports game is like a tiny war between tribes, with
an end and a declared victor.
But there's one important distinction; unlike war, no one
has to die in sports. One of the reasons going to a game is
more exciting than watching it on TV is that there is a kind
of energy created when so many people get together and root
for one cause. You might even liken it to a mob mentality.
We don't have to look farther than our own stadiums where
pandemonium has broken out in protest to a call or in celebration
of a win. Sports strongly appeals to the gaming and struggle
instincts of humans.
And since our modern lives no longer contain any real physical
danger and all our basic needs are immediately taken care
of, we now have a void that needs to be filled somehow, our
primitive brain expects it. Sports fit the bill. It gives
us the illusion of reality where there are no consequences.
It gives us the illusion of battle, war, victory and defeat,
without the consequences. And it gives us the illusion of
being a child again, even if it's all temporary.
You may not like sports at all, but we are all a quite childlike
inside. We all yearn for some level of drama in our lives.
And we are all constantly affected by our primitive brain.
Watching sports is one excellent way for people to reconcile
these inescapable facts.
Jason OConnor has a BA in Psychology and Philosophy
and runs NFL,
MLB, NHL, & NBA Tickets.
Article Source: www.upublish.info
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