If you love watching sports, the passion has probably come to you very easily. Perhaps sports were on the TV when you were a child and you couldn’t take your eyes off of it.
Maybe you played a game in school and got into professional sports as a result. Whatever the reason, watching sports is a favorite activity for millions of people all across the world.
An Age-old Question
People have been wondering why we like sports so much for as long as we’ve been playing and watching them. Even one of the most influential American sportswriters, Bill Simmons, wondered why he was so upset after his favorite team lost the Super Bowl.
For as long as he could remember, he had cared for sports. However, just because a thing has been so for a long time doesn’t mean that it can’t be explained. In fact, psychologists have begun to explain why we love sports so much.
An Individual Answer
Why we love sports really comes down to the individual. The following eight explanations have been used to explain most people’s love of sports, but very few people would be able to boil their connection to sports down to only one or even two of these eight answers. While we can begin to understand some of why we love sports, getting a sense of why any individual likes sports can be a lot more challenging.
- Self-esteem. Watching sports can give you something to invest in, care about, and be an expression of your personal identity, all of which build self-esteem.
- Money. Betting on sports or investing in sports teams is a serious industry. Casual fans can become highly devoted when money is involved.
- Family and social ties. Supporting a team with your family is a strong way to build bonds between you. Socializing with other people who support your team helps to build stronger social ties as well.
- Excitement and adrenaline rush. The experience of watching intense, active sports is extremely exciting and can make you feel a sympathetic adrenaline rush not unlike watching exciting movies, but often more intense.
- Aesthetic pleasure. Watching sports can truly be beautiful. Here are athletes in the prime of life, in the peak of physical condition, pushing their bodies to do more than most people could ever dream of.
- Emotional expression. Sports have it all. You laugh, you cry, you celebrate, you mourn. Sports enable us to express a wide range of emotional experiences, all in one fun shared environment.
- Escape. Sports let you completely forget yourself for a moment and live in a world that is both real and artificial and excellent at fully engaging your attention.
- Belonging and connection. The feeling that you are one of many fans who all support the same goals is extremely powerful.
Why Do We Care About Particular Sports?
Even if you can clearly answer why you might like sports in general, knowing why you like a particular sport or sports team and be a lot more difficult. Fans are often devoted to their favorite team and players, sometimes do a degree that it doesn’t matter what a player or team does, they won’t lose the loyalty of their die-hard fans. Investigations into rape charges, videotapes of spousal abuse, and other serious allegations have not stopped fans from supporting their favorite teams.
One of the best explanations for why we care about particular sports and particular teams within those sports is that we watch sports largely in order to have a sense of connection. While we may also be motivated by the other reasons to enjoy sports, this one seems to be the primary motivator for why we might like a particular team over another.
We feel connected to the team we support and join with them against the other team and the other fans. We feel closer to fans of the same team no matter what differences we might have. This connection builds over the years and is often fed by the social connections we have to one another. Families often stick to one team, and if they don’t, it is a comical but sometimes even serious rift between them.
Sports help to support the sense of an in-group, which is one of the strongest motivators for human behavior. In groups mean that there has to be an out-group. Therein lies some of the trouble with sports and sports fans. Fans sometimes get into violent fights with each other.
This may be more likely because testosterone, cortisol, adrenaline, and other powerful hormones are highly activated in fans, which may account for the likelihood for sports fans to find themselves becoming more violent than they otherwise would be.
Enjoy Sports to the Fullest
If you like sports but are wondering if you can get more out of your experience, check out sports picks. sometimes a little bit of friendly betting is just what it takes to put you over the edge into absolutely loving sports.