Sports are and always have been such a huge part of my life, that I've never stopped to think why me and millions others are so consumed with following them. Most of us played sports as kids. Some of us played in high school, even a few in college.
But there comes a point in every sports lovers life that you lose the ability to be a player, and become only a fan. There in lies the core of why we are sports fans. We are living vicariously through our teams and our favorite players. When our team does something good or bad, we do something good or bad. That is how we as sports fans stay connected.

It also has to do with wanting to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. I'm a Celtics fan and feel like I'm a part of the bigger Celtics community. When I go to bars and they're on TV, I feel like I'm representing them in a way. When I go into a bar in Boston I feel at home. It is almost like an extended family for sports fans. Sports gives us a chance to get away from the realities of everyday life for a few hours. When our team wins we feel a sense of accomplishment even though in reality we had nothing to do with it.

The problems come when you take it too seriously. I know first hand about this. I remember back in high school, anytime UNC would lose in the NCAA tournament I'd be depressed and angry for a week. It's ridiculous when you think about it. Does your life really change just because your sports team doesn't win? Nothing was worse than the Super Bowl 2 years ago when the Patriots lost. I thought I had slowly gotten over the stage of life when I let sports get to me that much, but I honestly couldn't watch or read any sports related items for two weeks. Yes, I am still kind of bitter.

The good news is, even though I'm nervous when my teams play now, I get over losses a lot better than I used to. Being depressed about a sports loss is similar to a lot of things in life. It does no use to regret what already has happened, you move on and hope for the best next time.

The Internet has created a whole new breed of sports fan. Now you have so much negativity and hatred between people. Go on any message board and you will see tons of hateful comments and most of it makes no sense. It is ridiculous to hate anyone just because they are on a team you don't like. Look, I've done it before and for that I'm a total idiot. But I've realized that you can hate a team, but you can't hate the players. It is dumb to hate Peyton Manning just because he is on the Colts and really good. I don't know the guy at all, and just because he is the best player on my rivals team doesn't make him a bad person. The exception to this of course is T.O who sucks at life.

I love being a sports fan, though it can be an extremely frustrating life. This is especially the case if you like the Redskins, who always seem to underachieve, and whose owner only cares about dollar signs. But for some reason we keep rooting for our teams. No matter how much they break our heart, no matter how many times the players change, a sports fan always cheers on their team to the end.

Karl Dillinger 10/08/2009 12:20:00 PM Edit
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4 Responses so far.

  1. Three Toe says:

    Wow, I have to say, this is probably the best and most intelligent article I've read here yet. As a fellow sports fan and someone who self-reflects a lot, I often wonder what the appeal of sports is to fans and its effects on them. I've come to the conclusion, like you have, that us fans live vicariously through the players. Even for those who have never played sports do this. It's the same reason we like to announce that we've met a celebrity or "know someone in the band." It brings us one step closer to an elevated status.

    This is why we wear other people's jerseys, and eventually become emotionally attached to the game. When you attach your ego to a player or team and they lose a game, it's almost like, in a way, you've lost the game. For men, it's a way to attempt to become more of an alpha, if you will (i.e. to make babies). Clearly the player himself is at that status, but if he's not around, you are going to be the next best thing, you subconsciously hope. well, what about the female sports fans, why do they care? Well, I'm not a woman, so I couldn't really tell you, but my guess is that a jersey is as an alternative to showing skin when trying to attract us. Eventually our attachment to players and teams reaches a level where, despite what I said, we will watch games alone, or we will bond with others who share this attachment thus obscuring the real reasons and the deeper psychology of a "fan."

    Another reason behind fan-dom is geography too, obviously. A lot of people generally develop a certain amount of pride about where they come from and a good way to advertise this is to show an affiliation with a regional sports team.

    So I wonder, if sport is really so primitive, do so many people still love it? Well, a lot of people are more primitive than they think. Me, I just accept the fact that i'm only human and I want to get laid. I also love the game itself. Within the rules and strategy of basketball (and most other sports) is something not so primitive. It is like a chess match, but rather than two people's brains taking turns, it's played on the fly by many independent minds and bodies, all working towards one goal. Human error and decisions make it ever-changing and thus exciting.

    I thoroughly enjoy reflecting on what makes us tick, but I also enjoy shutting this off, analyzing the game itself and enjoying the experience with friends and potential more-than-friends. So enough of this, let's a have a beer and badmouth the refs till the TV can hear us!

  2. Three Toe says:

    hmm, I didn't realize that was such a long comment. It doesn't really make sense as its own post though... sorry, man!

  3. no problem man, I really appreciate your feedback. I have a bunch of articles similar to this from my blog that I will post periodically. I hope others enjoy as well.

  4. tb727 says:

    Dillinger, nicely written. 3-toe I'm beginning to think we share the same mind lol.

    I must admit back in 1994 I was seriously depressed out of my mind about the Knicks almost winning it. Thanks again to Olajuwon and Mad Max for keeping me sane.

    But you're right, we shouldnt hate the players. But how can you not hate Vucajic lol...

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