By Damian C. Reynolds
Sports bring strangers together just as much as they halt friendships for a fixed amount of time.
Imagine being at a sporting event fellowshipping with that stranger to your left (or right) all because you both share an interest in teams. Now imagine shouting expletives with your best friend, or even family members, because you cheer for rival teams.
We act this way for the love of sports.
We shout. We scream. We sometimes cry. We sing fight songs and various chants. We get premature tattoos on our neck. We riot. We invest our emotions into something that we have no control over.
We even made sports a fantasy.
You draft real-life players in fantasy leagues hoping they score fake points. Instead of appreciating greatness we grimace because Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas instead of Emmanuel Sanders because, well, fantasy points.
It’s not that deep sports fans.
Don’t say “we” won (or lost) if you didn’t personally contribute to the outcome. If you made the game-changing three in Miami to force game 7 or threw that interception at the end of the Super Bowl, then yes, say “we” won (or lost).
I love sports as much as the next person and curse loudly in my room when Dayton bursts my March madness bracket by defeating Ohio State in the first game. President Obama watches Sportscenter and makes a bracket every year. Why? Because sports matter.
When an American (or Toronto-based) team wins a championship, the city throws a parade and that team eventually gets to meet the president based on their achievement.
Sports are the third leading cause of arguments behind politics and religion. Walk into your local barbershop and ask who’s better: Jordan or LeBron? Observe the passion of these grown men as they pick sides and defend two men they’ll never meet. Strange, yes, but people feel strongly about their sports.
Sports terms are used in everyday language. CEO’s use the terms “slam dunk” and “home run” when they close a huge deal. We hear baseball metaphors to refer to sex, and let’s not forget the “Shoot your shot” phenomenon circulating social media.
We take sports very seriously. Sometimes too seriously. A person’s day can be made or ruined based on the result of their favorite team’s performance. Win or lose, sports can even be the death of some people.
Sports highlight real emotion. Sports can’t be scripted. College stadiums regularly sell out 100,000-seat venues. Meanwhile, I don’t recall the last time I saw a full-capacity lecture class.
More people probably know the only person to win consecutive Heisman trophies or how many times Lebron lost in the NBA Finals but can’t name all 44 presidents in order.
Sports is more than just a few good plays and a nice jump shot, though.
While we want our favorite teams to win, we sit in silence when a player goes down with injury (unless it’s Derrick Rose, then we’re no longer surprised). Southern University football player Devon Gales sustained an injury while playing the Georgia Bulldogs. Sure, Georgia won the game, but Georgia coach Mark Richt visited Gales following his surgery and both fan bases rallied around Gales because people care.
Sports makes us do the craziest things only because we love them so much.