Whether you’re into American football, soccer or cricket, you’ll probably know that sport can be something of an obsession. But what is it about sport that keeps us hooked?
It might sound like an overly simplistic question. After all, most of us became fans of sport at a very young age without realising it. But the current pandemic has caused many of us to question things that we previously took for granted.
Many of us will miss sport as a form of physical experience. Sport gives us an enjoyable way to get the blood pumping in a way that’s necessary to stay fit and healthy. While we can always go for a jog or do some press-ups, most people would agree that playing anything from tennis to soccer can be a more interesting way to keep fit without noticing it. It’s also worth noting that repeated physical exercise can have massive benefits on our mental well-being too.
The current lockdown conditions in many countries have meant that there’s been a trend for people trying to keep fit through home work-out YouTube tutorials. Again, these might be a good quick fix, but such tutorials frequently aren’t as engrossing as playing sport.
This is because sport is dependent upon the competitive element. As such, it’s the battle of skills that means that makes sport such a vital force. It’s the reason why over 100 million people regularly tune in to watch the Super Bowl, and it’s the same reason why so many people go to a betting site like Bet365 to try and predict the winner of anything from a game of cricket to a horse race.
Last spring saw the majority of major sporting events called off. However, many smaller sports were able to carry on and these sports gained whole new audiences. For a while sports like table tennis and darts were the most popular sports on the planet.
This meant that many of us were keen to embrace indoor sports so as to stay competitive while obeying social distancing guidelines. The rise in popularity of table tennis and pool during 2020 was significant and it suggested that sport fulfils some essential part of our human nature.
This is because sport gives us a way to test ourselves and it also gives us a way of interacting with others. While sports like golf can be played by yourself, there is little doubting the fact that it gets a lot more fun when you play against other people.
For a long time, video games were fairly solitary affairs. But the rapid rise of esports has again shown us that it is the multiplayer features of modern games that makes them more like regular sports, and therefore much more enjoyable both for the participant and the spectator.
Plus sport often gives us a sense of community even when we’re watching the big game alone at home. After all, there’s almost something tribal about wearing the colours of your favourite football team.
Above all, sport gives us a place where we can focus our attention away from the regular stresses of the modern world. For that 90 minutes that we’re wrapped up in that soccer match, we aren’t worrying about the household bills. Plus you’re far less likely to be concerned about the future when you’re hoping that the quarterback manages to complete his next pass. So while most of us will have suffered that massive heartbreak from when our favourite team loses their game, it’s clear that few of us would enjoy such a happy life if it wasn’t for sport.