I have been wondering if I have been spending too much time on sports spectating. I have been watching so many games as of late... games for teams that I don't really follow or care about. And the time I have spent on fantasy football... well, ugh. I don't want to go there. It kind of makes me sick just writing about it, because as I am typing these words, I am doing an estimate in my head. I think that goes to show I should spend less time on it. However, outside of just watching for entertainment, is there value in spectating sports?
Why They Matter:
The value of sports is not felt until times of crisis. For example, after 9/11 the world felt like it had turned on its head. It was felt far beyond just the families who had lost loved ones. It is still a day that haunts the American people. But people rallied around the city of New York. People spread there love from far and wide and a symbol of that city, a symbol of hope to the world was the New York Yankees. Their run in the playoff was more than just games. It was a way for people to heal and bury their fears into players playing a game.
This wasn't the first time that a team represented a people's hope and desire for change.
Even more recently you saw the power of sports that forced change. The University of Missouri football team was willing to boycott their season in support of a student on hunger strike in protest of racism on campus. The school President resigned days after the student athletes started their boycott. These players were seen as a catalyst for change and the hope of a lasting social change.
Sports and players have been the peoples' champion and representative of the values that they hold dear. That they aspire to. In the Olympics they are acting on behalf of the country's citizens. They are chosen because they embody the highest of skill, strength, and ability that can be hoped for. The country's hopes ride on their shoulders. It is a heavy weight to have, but often times they rise up to occasion. Think of one of the most famous examples as the 1980's USA Olympic hockey team. Complete underdogs who found a way to overcome the odds.
Sports unify across different religions, sects, and ideals. They act as a connector between different classes and peoples. There is nothing quite like it.
They provide an escape for those who have no where else to go.
Finally, sports provide a medium to create memories that are not forgotten. I will not forget the time I watched the De La Hoya pick apart his opponents or Michael Jordan sinking a dagger into the hearts of every Jazz fan while sitting on the floor of my grandfathers home. I cannot forget the time that Brooks headed in the game winner for USA over Ghana in the 2014 World Cup with my brothers.
Why They Don't:
You can be consumed by them. They can take over your entire life. Spare moments are filled with talking heads dissecting plays and predicting the future. Precious time is willing given up to blaring TV's. Perfect afternoons are surrendered to the dark basement. The anger and disappointment can ruin lifelong relationships. I have felt that emotion boil over and cause me to be someone I don't want to be.
At the end of the day, it is a game.
It can be hard to keep that perspective. It is easy to become so emotionally involved that it actually feels like you lost the game. You were on the court when they hit that buzzer beater. You were the one who lost it all. But that isn't the case. The inability to compartmentalize real life vs entertainment is crucial to a happy fan life.