Can someone who enjoys sports explain it to me?

I’m not into sports - watching or talking about it. The only exception is rugby and that’s because it essentially works as soft core porn as far as I’m concerned (sports fetish that I have). But get me to watch a football/soccer match? You’d need to put a gun to my head.

And yet there are people who can’t think of anything they’d rather do than watch football or whatever other sport. Not only do they enjoy it, they’ll go out of their way to watch it! :confused:

Can someone attempt to explain what it is about watching sport they can enjoy? Obvious statements of “people are just different” aren’t helpful, I’d like an insight into the mind of someone who is very different to me on this. For example, if someone who didn’t like theatre asked me to explain why I did I’d say that it’s about being part of something otherworldy, being pulled into a story, great dialogue and plot (in a good play) and that point where you forget you’re watching people pretend and start just seeing the characters.

Anyone want to have a go at this?

I hate watching sports with a passion as well. I’m curious as to why you say you have a sports fetish but then you also say you hate sports???

Beats the fuck out of me? I’ve always been heavily into sports, competing as an amateur at regional (rugby and paddling), national (cross-country) and international (skiing) levels, and earning my keep as a professional instructor (paddling), but I don’t see anything in common between participating in a sport and watching a sport on TV. My guess is that watching sports on TV is more like gambling – anticipating the odds and seeing them play out.

George Will said “Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.”

That’s half of it for me. Now, recognizing that excellence means you have to be somewhat knowledgeable about that particular sport, which is where most of the difficulty comes in.

The other half is that rooting for “your team” is fun. Humans very easily fall into an us vs them mindset. Indulging that is enjoyable.

It’s all this, only not pretend. The characters are real, the situations are real. It is a great drama, and you’re never guaranteed a happy ending.

Except maybe not the “great dialogue” part.

Poetic license. The dialogue is in outthinking and outguessing the opponent. A duel between pitcher and batter, offence verses defense, move and counter move. It’s a nonverbal dialogue of action.

The rugby as softcore porn should have clued you into that. It means that I enjoy sexually sports gear and scenarios (think wearing sports kit during sex, locker room fantasies etc).

Hmmm - thanks for the insights guys, this is good. Any more for any more?

  1. Spectacle - It’s grandiose, ludicrous, it is out of the ordinary (any sport worth watching typically is something none of its observers could ever hope to do on the level of the participants.) Enjoyment of spectacle is why the Romans used to fill the Coliseum with water and have mock naval battles and the reason Barnum & Bailey train elephants to paint pictures. It’s why they have fireworks at baseball games and guys dressed up as sausages having a race in between innings.

  2. Tribe Mentality - The ancient Greek city-states would all send competitors to the Olympics. The observers would get to see if the wrestlers from Thebes could beat the wrestlers from Athens. Did it matter? No, but they still wanted to know who would win. It’s a desire as old as our organized societies. People speculate in bars about who could beat who in a fight, who could beat who in a competitive sport, then when you factor in that individuals from a certain ‘tribe’ will have a strong affiliation with one of the participants that really adds something to the interest level.

  3. Natural Human Inclination towards Games - Humans play games. All humans that are not suffering from serious disability play games at some point in their life. In the past that usually meant something vaguely athletic, but it could have meant checkers, chess, draughts, various similar games from all over the world, dominoes, cards, etc. In the modern age you can add everything from paintball to online avatar-driven role playing games. The most popular games always attract people (often individuals who have played the game themselves) who are interested in seeing the best of the best. In the 19th century individuals were members of chess clubs and would read books and debate the moves of that era’s great masters. Most of these people played chess themselves, albeit not on a level approaching the masters, they played it enough to really enjoy and understand the game and that gave them a desire to follow the exploits of those who were the best at it.

With sports, many people have played some level of the sport they are most interested in.

This is, and I’m guessing low, the 20th time someone has aksed this question on the SDMB. Sadly, my search-fu is poor.

Now, historically, the people asking were never really asking the question; they were, instead, saying “My lack of desire to watch sports is correct, and those who think otherwise are wrong,” but you’ve always seemed like a decent sort so I’ll see if I can’t add another honest answer.

It’s fun.

Sports are fun to watch for precisely the same reason movies and TV shows are fun to watch, or novels are fun to read. They’;re entertainment. I have to assume there is some form of entertainment you like, is there not? Well, okay; sports are just anotehr form of entertainment. A professional sports team is an ongoing story of characters, successes, failures, remarkable comebacks and spectacular disasters, the ebb and flow of competition over time. It is fun to be emotionally invested in the story and to follow it, just as it’s fun to be emotionally invested in a story you’re following on TV or in a novel.

I mean, why do so many people like the theatre? It’s all just phony, right? But as you point out, the characters and story pull you in. Same with sports; the story pulls you in, and there IS a story, it’s just not scripted.

To me, every season of baseball (to use my preferred sport) is a story. Every team’s history is a story, every player a story. Once you get into it a single game is an episode in dozens of interlocking plots.

On top of that you have the enoyment of watching the story being expertly told. Just as I can appreciate the cinematic genius of films like “Fargo” or “The Godfather” and see that the movie is being made with a truly admirable level of skill and artistry, I can appreciate the skill with which a professional sport is played. So I’m not just watching an ongoing story, I’m watching it being played out with a tremendous level of mastery of the techniques involved.

I suspected as much, but hey, why not just ask again eh?

That absolutely is not what I’m saying. I’m trying to understand something that I don’t enjoy from the perspective of someone who does. It’s not about demonstrating that my way of seeing things is right, simply to gain a view of a different one to mine. I’m ignorant on this issue, so I’m trying to do something about it; that’s what this board is supposed to be about, right?

And compliment noted and returned :slight_smile:

Football is my sport to watch and you like to watch your team win and other teams lose. And with football and any other game if you don’t know the rules of the game it isn’t fun to watch. I once sat down with someone during a game and explained to them what was going on and they now enjoy the game much better. So maybe you hate sports because you don’t understand them.

           And everyone has their sport and will say theirs is better. For me I like the play by play of football and the action.  You can get into what is going on and there isn't over a 100 games on in a season like other sports.

I prefer playing sports (for me, that’s golf and bowling - I’m too old and uncoordinated for many other sports) to watching them, but I do enjoy watching them.

For me, the biggest difference between watching a sporting event and, say, watching a play or a concert is that I don’t know in advance how the sporting event is going to end. The play is going to end exactly the same way tonight that it ended last night and the night before that.

Sports are an invitation to turn off, for a brief time, sections of your brain, the sections that are filled with anxiety and which you can do little about.

For three hours I can concentrate on what is happening on a field, where a self-contained system will operate by rules that I can understand, and where an outcome will be produced that makes sense to me, based on events that I see transpire before my very eyes.

I prefer to watch professional sports where these events will take place featuring the most skilled competitors in the world, motivated to do their best on the field.

In the real world, OTOH, competitions take place behind closed doors, between sides that are unequal, and no outcome is ever known for sure, nor is any result final.

And once you have a sport, or two, that you understand and appreciate, you find it easier to marvel at other sports. I don’t really follow soccer but if I am flipping channels and there is a highlight package of European soccer on, I will often watch to just see great players doing great things. Just as I would stop and watch if I came across a Fred Astaire dance routine, although I can’t dance.

Great thread/last member combo:

“Can someone who enjoys sports explain it to me?”
“Don’t ask”


In the last few years the TV providers have really exploded the volume of talk shows. it seems to me today that there’s more hours of programming about the soap opera of the players, managers, and coaches than there is of the sport itself.

The folks who run the networks aren’t dumb. Clearly there’s a need there. Something about that resonates with the audience.

Just like the breathless movie-star gossip rags of the 50s & 60s.

The above is not why I watch sports, but it seems to me that there’s a bunch of attraction there for many people.

I don’t understand the sports love, either. Seems like a very unproductive use of time, even if you watch while working around the house. And those towns that live or die on the backs of their high school ballplayers? Why?

And we’re back…this is what threads like this always come down to on the SDMB. If there’s an entertainment venue someone doesn’t think is “worthy” it’s a waste of time, stupid or et cetera.

Simply, people are allowed to enjoy whatever they want. There is nothing intrinsically useful about someone who hangs out in a library reading 17th century poetry, but it’s no one’s place to say that’s an “unproductive use of time.” Presumably that is what someone enjoys doing.

It could easily be: “Watching sports disserves society by providing vivid examples of excellence so no one else has to try for themselves.”

I like to watch sports, but just sitting around watching them all the time without doing any is not enough for me. That’s what I can’t understand. Maybe it’s my own bias, but sometimes the biggest fans also seem to be the fattest and laziest.