I was wondering why it is that I like sports. I love the Dodgers. I followed their season from day one, and even before, and for what? They made the playoffs (HAPPY!), and then got eliminated (sad). Why do we do it? How many times has your team broken your heart? Only one team can win every year in every sport. If you are a world soccer fan (as I am) you can look forward to only seeing your team compete at the highest level once every four years, if they qualify! That is torture. I don't care how many times your favorite team has won, it still hurts when they get eliminated. So I ask again, what is it about sports that attracts us?
We know that we are more likely to be disappointed by their performance than satisfied. It is like dating someone who is bound to let you down. Hmmm... Maybe that is it. Maybe we know that, and that is why it is so exciting when they win. Like the Red Sox coming back after being down three games to none to beat the Yankees. Like the Dodgers hitting four straight home runs to tie the game in the ninth and then Garciapara hitting a walk off in the tenth. Maybe all of the failure makes the successes that much better. We remember watching Gibson limping around the bases after sending the ball over the wall, The Rocket striking out batters twenty years younger than him, Lance Armstrong winning again after recovering from cancer, Jordan playing against the Jazz with the flu and still sinking basket after basket. These are the moments that we remember, the winning moments, when we felt like it was us who threw the ball to Taylor in the back of the end zone, saved the penalty shot in the finals, beat the goalie five hole to win the cup.
Sports allows us to have heroes. The Greek gods are dead. The gladiators are gone. The Titans extinct. We need heroes. Sports gives them to us. We crave competition. Is it so different from the coliseum in Rome? We yell the same things Romans probably yelled then. "Kill em!" "Get em!" "No mercy!" "Don't give up!" "Keep fighting!" We love the huge hit, the crash, the violence. Is it society? How? It has always been there. From cock fights, to boxing matches, to sports, it is always about one besting another. It is part of being human.
So why do we continue to follow our favorite sports teams? Race car drivers? Boxers? Because we believe they can win, and when they do we share in their glory. We get to feel what it is like, just for a moment, to feel what it is like to be a hero. Nothing can beat that feeling. It is better than any drug medicine or the street can provide. Winning feels good. We can't get enough of it.