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The Psychology Behind Why We Love Sports

Sebastian Langer 0

Man loves sports and to play sports for a variety of reasons. And needless to say, so huge is the influence actioned by sports, that it exercises a great deal of power over many people. So passionate are some about the team they support, their favourite player; their favourite venue even; that their identities and even their sense of self-esteem become completely intertwined with the performance of that team or that player at any given time.

The fact is that sports matters is just how it is for many people, despite the fact that even the most astute academically minded fans aren’t able to formulate in words why this is so. One of the most influential and prominent sports writers of all time, American sportswriter Bill Simmons, once wrote about his own experience with football as a sport. He wrote the following after his team lost the Super Bowl: “I have never been able to answer the question, ‘Why does this matter to me so much?’ That’s just the way it’s always been. Ever since I can remember.”

Eight Reasons Why

Psychologists have managed to narrow it all down to a total of eight “drivers” or motivations. Some of these are obvious, whilst others are more unique. The eight motivations identified by psychologists are:

  1. People like sports because it’s a boost to the human self-esteem. One had only to think of “that time ‘we’ won the World Cup to imagine why this is true. There’s no question about it; winning is a boost and as for losing; not so much.
  2. People like sports; and this one applies in particular to a specific team or player; because of the fact that a boyfriend or girlfriend or mentor likes sports.
  3. It’s exciting. People like sports because there’s a definite rush of blood to the head to be had from watching one’s team do what nobody thought possible. Its all about waiting for the buzzer; literally wishing away the final seconds of match lest the “other” team scores game-changer points.
  4. People like sports because it’s a platform for emotional freedom of expression. Not unlike the theatre, really.
  5. People like sports because they have money on the outcome at a bookmaker like casino gamers trying machines here.
  6. People like sports because it’s visually pleasing. Let no man (or woman!) contest the fact that sports can be an art in its own right.
  7. People like sports because it can often-times be a much-needed escape from reality. This may include simply needing to get one’s mind off of one’s problems, or even a major boredom buster.
  8. People like sports because it brings about a sense of belonging; of being part of something greater than the self or something more purposeful than just the here and the now of everyday life.

It is What It is

All of the above makes it quite clear that there is no simple or even single answer to the question of why human beings tend to fall fanatically in love with sports. But really, that’s just the way its always been.

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