Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why we love sports

Saturday afternoon, I was opining that there are two main reasons people love sports:

1) The enjoyment that comes from rooting for your favorite team. It's fun to sit and watch a sporting event with a vested interest in what happens, partly because this makes you part of something larger than yourself. You can talk to others about the game, debate what your team did right or wrong, and allow your opinions to be confirmed or questioned by what you read in the newspaper or on the Internet. When your team loses, you can commiserate with others. When they win, go to the playoffs or even win it all, you're part of a broad celebration that brings you closer to millions of people (or dozens, in the case of the Orioles).

2) The certainty that you are going to continually see things you've never seen before. With sports, you can truly expect the unexpected. While it's fun to predict what's going to happen and bloviate about which teams and players are going to do this or that, we only love sports because deep down we know that it's impossible to prognosticate with any consistent accuracy.

And lo and behold, Saturday turned out to be a perfect example of Reason #2. First, the baseball world witnessed the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history. A no-hitter is one of those things you can never expect and forces you to call up or text your friends to say, "Did you see there was a no-hitter today?" That alone made it a unique day in sports.

But the Mets and Cardinals had something even more unique in mind: a 20-inning game that remained deadlocked in a 0-0 tie all the way into the 19th inning. Trevor Sierra left my house to go out to dinner when the game was in the eighth. When he and his fiancee Becky stopped back at my house an hour-and-a-half later, the game was still going. Then the three of us went out to the movies (Date Night--worth seeing), and I went to check the final score once the movie let out. Still going! 19th inning. But the Mets scored a run, so it was finally going to end.

Until the Cardinals plated a run of their own with two outs in the bottom of the inning. The Mets managed to score another run in the top of the 20th and won 2-1 in just under seven hours.

The game saw a starting pitcher play left field for multiple innings and the Cardinals used two different position players to pitch (outfielder Joe Mather took the loss). Have you ever seen a baseball game quite like that?

Definitely not. And this despite the fact that they play 30 games a day, six months a year, and have been doing so for over 100 years (yes, I know, there weren't 30 teams 100 years ago, but you get the point). No matter how many games they play, every sport keeps finding new (and unexpected) ways to surprise and entertain us. And that's why we love them.

1 comment:

  1. I must say that the inverse is true of number one as well. Rooting for your least favorite team can also bring joy. Since my least favorite team is the Cubs, they are often bring me joy as they lose, and are always doing something that no one has done before(that being the continuation of an unthinkable world series drought). Yes, I am a tear licker, but hating the Cubs brings me joy. It also gives me a good reason to be invested in twice as many games per year.