Why I care about sports

Originally written for a Facebook comment:

If I might comment (during the Slovenia - USA World Cup webcast) - Sports are interesting for a few reasons:

First, they are games, akin to chess, checkers, battleship, etc. Granted, these games involve a higher mental ability to physical ability ratio than soccer, football, etc, but the elements that make chess fun - competition, strategy, the joy of success (and the drama of failure) also apply to the sports field.

Second, we did them! I've played in baseball and soccer leagues as a child, went to track and tennis camps, and did quite a bit of touch football and pick-up basketball as a youth as well. When I watch these sports, I remember my youthful exertion - I have a connection to the game involved (much moreso with baseball than anything else, though I wasn't that good at it.)

Third, sports represent the pinnacle of a certain type of human achievement. Remember the Olympics of the ancient Greeks, and how they competed in the nude - it was about the ability of the body. Even now, we celebrate "faster, higher, stronger" - what is possible for people to achieve. That's why performance-enhancing drugs go against the spirit of sporting.

Fourth, sports offer emotion - teams represent school,s cities, states, countries, local communities - so you'll often have a home team to identify with. It's like hoping that Williams people do well at the Model UN competitions, even if you don't know anything about Model UN. We like to support and hope for those teams we identify with - even if it's all in fun and play.

Fifth, sports offer drama - there are story-lines of heroes who score often, villains who trash-talk, supporting characters who step up and do their part - in some ways, it's a real life drama of players as they move between teams and do their best to succeed. We identify with these people and their efforts, such as Kobe Bryant or Chipper Jones.