It can be fun to watch sports, but looking into the reasons why they bring us so much happiness and so much excitement is an interesting way to reflect on ourselves. Why do we watch sports? It’s a lot more than just the excitement of the game; although that is a huge part of it. There are a lot of deeper reasons, and many of them you might have never thought of before. Here are a few things that we love about our favorite sports, and maybe you will find that you enjoy the same things, too.
The Importance of Records
Records in sports mark something valuable. They mark milestones that the best players ever accomplished. They give current players something to aspire to, and they give future players a reason to get involved in the game. Records are a way of keeping score, not just of who the best player is for a particular season, but for who the best player is of all-time. Things like sabermetrics in MLB are designed to evaluate this more and more precisely. These tools are also great for fantasy sports fans. Sites like Windailyfantasy.com and playbook.draftkings.com will give you the information you need when it comes to statistics. However, comparing the talents of a Babe Ruth to a Barry Bonds is quite difficult given the different environments that each player grew up in. Still, knowing that one player had 60 homeruns in a season while the other had 73 is a clear cut, if imprecise, way of evaluating talent.
Records also accomplish another purpose. They give a sense of history and background to a sport. That brings us to point number 2…
Each Sport Has a Story
There are no new sports. Even leagues that haven’t been around for a long time, like the UFC and MMA, have stories behind them. MMA has grown out of martial arts and boxing, each of which has been around for a really long time. You can’t really directly compare a Demetrious Johnson against Muhammad Ali, but there are similarities that can be drawn.
You can’t walk up to an NBA fan and say the name “Michael Jordan” without eliciting a response. They might love him, they might hate him, but they definitely will know the name and they will definitely have an opinion. And you can’t go up to a soccer fan and mention Pele without the same reaction. Each sport has a history, and it creates a backstory for every single game that’s being played. Even if the players don’t directly recognize it, they are part of that story. Stories in sports are made every day as well.
And many of us want to be involved in the story, too…
We Were Athletes
Some of us still are athletes, but probably not professionals. But how many of you can remember lacing up your spikes and thinking that this was going to be the day that the scout would come to your high school game and see YOU play? We might have never had a realistic chance at the pros, but we dreamed. That’s one of the reasons why people love sports; they were once athletes themselves. It doesn’t matter what sport you played, it’s probably competed at in the professional arena. You probably had your heroes, and you probably have new favorites now. Those players might be younger than you, and that’s okay. It doesn’t detract from the fun and excitement of watching.
Some people aspire to be behind the scenes. There are tons of careers in sports: management, scouting, physical training or therapy, sales, even electrician, maintenance, or janitorial jobs. That’s one of the reasons why fantasy sports are popular; they give you a chance to sit in the seat of a general manager and decide the fate of your own team against other managers.
Athletes are Rare
One other reason why people love sports is to marvel at the sheer talent that professionals have. If you’ve ever tried to play tennis, for example, you know how hard it is to hit that little ball as hard as you can and get it to go anywhere remotely close to where you want it to go. Golf is another good example. It doesn’t look like a hard sport, but the moment you try to hit the ball with a club, you realize just how purely athletic it is. The necessary coordination coupled with physical control of your entire body is impossibly difficult to perfect. We love sports because these are people that have dedicated their lives to becoming finely tuned machines. Being a professional athlete is more than a full time job. It’s more of a way of life. A pro has to watch what they eat, what they do, how and where and when they sleep. It is a fully consuming way of life and the average person doesn’t think about that. But once their favorite player steps out on the field, the results of that lifestyle show. That’s why someone can hit a fastball coming at them at 100 miles per hour dead on with a 3 inch piece of lumber. It’s amazing to us, and we marvel at the skill needed for it. In the end, it’s up to us to enjoy the game and participate when we have the opportunity.