The Power of Sports

It almost defies logic. Men wear lamentably tight pants, cover themselves in pads and helmets, and then pound the snot out of each other for three hours.

That explains two of my favorite sports in a nutshell: hockey and football.

The Philadelphia Eagles, football that is, lost a heart breaker tonight. As part of our decision to pass up on cable, I was left to the ESPN Gamecast. Little green and black lines inched their ways up and down the field representing live action.

And yet I was riveted.

Well not completely. I also redesigned this blog to keep me busy (trying to simplify it a little, we’ll see how it goes). Nevertheless, I kept checking in, cheered on my team, and stayed up until 11:30 pm just to have my heart broken. And sadly, I would do it again without any doubt.

So in my best impression of Ira Glass from This American Life: “Why are sports so important to us?”,

There are a number of factors involved here. One is what my wife calls the “male soap opera.” This comes mainly from events off the field, the perfect example being Terrell Owens and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Will this player sign with his old team or will his gaze wander elsewhere? Can the coach who failed to make the play offs this year hang on to his job? Why would a successful coach retire when he has so much to play for?

And the questions go on. Speculation, drama, crisis: it’s all there.

Secondly, sports provide an odd kind of rush. Anyone who’s really been sucked into a game knows what I mean. Chattering nerves and the surging emotions for the big plays. There’s so much at stake . . . or so it seems.

Perhaps I can’t explain why we become so wrapped up into sports and place so much emotional stock in them, but the resulting emotional highs are what keep bringing us back. We somehow share in the triumphs and failures of others without having to leave the couch.

Heck, I just sat around at my computer for an hour and tracked the last part of the Eagles game and I found myself completely wrapped up in it.

And even if they broke my heart again this year, I know that I’ll end up coming back for more next year. I can’t resist. And that is the part I don’t understand.