There's More to Sports
By Preston Young, MBA
We all have our favorite sports teams, the games we can’t miss and certain players who we consider our heroes. For some, it’s more than a pastime. Sports fandom often becomes a way of life, sometimes taking over one’s schedule at particular times during the year. The beauty of sports is that they are popular around the world, whether that is baseball, basketball, football, soccer, hockey, golf, swimming and so many more, in every country there are swaths of fans just like us tuning into every event to cheer on their team. We rally around the sports and teams that matter to us the most, who we feel most connected to and the individual athletes who we feel deserve our loyal fandom. The interesting thought behind this fandom is, what does it have to do with who we are and why are we this passionate in the first place?
Sometimes, we begin to watch games with our family and learn to root for the teams that mom, dad, grandpa and grandma all love or we attend games that are close to home and cheer with the rest of the local community. Some of us are fans of teams that are located far away. Whether you’re attending a game close to home or far away from home, I feel that when we cheer, we aren’t just supporting the athletes on the field, but we are in celebration of our communities which unite us in a group unlike any other. When I say “unlike any other” I truly mean that. People who are fans of the same team and are attending the same game will quite instantly become friendly with one another. Part of who we are, as humans is that we crave a sense of belonging, of fitting in and when attending a sporting event, you’re never alone when you’re in a crowd with fans all wearing the same colors as you.
Typically, the World Series is played in October. This year, however, the games are stemming into November, but we are currently seeing this fandom in Philadelphia. I am not a Philadelphia Phillies fan but watching those games on TV, seeing those fans unite and create an atmosphere like no other is chilling. People have described the stadium as moving beneath their feet due to the crowd noise. If you have watched any of these games on TV, the announcers are quite literately yelling so that you can hear them. In addition to feeling apart of a community, we feel as though we are a part of the action. For truly dedicated sports fans, like myself, it is more than a game. Our fandom creates a thrill of grouping up to cheer on our favorite teams who are capable of providing meaning to our lives, we want our team to win. There is often a real bond that forms between us sports fans and the athletes that can be so strong we feel like we are part of the action on the field.
I am fortunate enough to have seen my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox win 4 World Series Championships during my lifetime and my favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers win 1 Superbowl during my lifetime. Hopefully over the course of the rest of my life, I am able to see many more championships, but these teams have become part of who I am. Rooting for teams is an easy, external source of positive self-esteem, when our teams do well, we feel good. The pressure of doing well isn’t on us but instead the athletes themselves, yet we get the ability to bask in the glory of wins but cut ourselves out of the picture during losses. Notice I didn’t mention the many NFC championship losses the Packers have suffered the past few years.
The answer to the question I asked earlier, is that we all are passionate for different reasons and this fandom has a lot to do with who we are. For some, it’s a sense of purpose, others, it’s a way to connect with a community. There is a lot to learn about ourselves through who we are as sports fans.