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The Madness of Sports

  1. Sep 22, 2003 #1
    Why do people get so attached to sports, that they must win, and killing and beating other fans as well?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2003 #2
    The drive in every psyche to compete would be my opinion. We all, at some level, want to compete and do battle. Sports seem to be an extension of that. Plus there's the "Be all I can be" kinda of persona of sports.
  4. Sep 22, 2003 #3


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    Probably because what we see today as sports derive from the ancient and brutal hunts and war-games, where winning at all costs was a requirement of survival.
  5. Sep 22, 2003 #4
    Exactly, it's your basic "Fight or Flight" reaction. The people that are attracted to sports are those that have a predisposition to "fight".
  6. Sep 23, 2003 #5


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    Are you talking about the recent altercation outside Dodger stadium? The latest I heard on the news was that they weren't arguing about the game - that it was something else. Was that later disproved?
    Even if they weren't arguing about the game, there is almost always pretty serious drinking (usually beer - at least that was all they sold whenever I was at a game there) going on, and alcohol tends to make people more violent and agressive.
  7. Sep 24, 2003 #6


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    I think the answer to this question is more complex than has been indicated thus far. I think FZ+ was on the right track, but I would like to extend his basic idea a little further by borrowing some ideas from The Lucifer Principle (a very interesting book by Howard Bloom that I'm in the process of reading).

    A sports team is a kind of social/cultural phenomenon in itself, and it is human nature to seek to belong to such social groups-- numerous studies have shown that one's psychological and physiological health are directly correlated with one's subjective sense of playing a meaningful and valued role in a larger social context. According to Bloom, such large social groups take on a life of their own and become a sort of superorganism with its own emergent character and motives, including an evolutionary struggle for survival against rival superorganisms (a clear example of such a superorganism would be the classical 'mob mentality,' wherein the collective mob somehow emerges as a sort of single unified creature in its own right).

    The average fan's identification with this larger whole is often plainly evident in the language s/he uses-- a fan will say of his/her preferred team, "We really need to make a trade" or "There's no way they can beat us." The superogranism's competition with rival superorganisms is thus experienced on the individual level as the 'us vs. them' mentality-- in sports, this effect is in fact invited and amplified by associated cultural/geographical identities, such as New York vs. New Jersey or Brazil vs. Italy. In general, the more distinct 'us' and 'them' are, the more these superorganisms stand in direct competition with eachother, and thus the more acerbic, vicious, and inhumane their attitudes may become towards eachother. Any historical review will show that the violence and competition that takes place within a social group is negligible compared to that which occurs between rival social groups, which Bloom explains in terms of evolutionary survival principles applied to the superorganism itself. (By way of analogy, an individual's immune system must be ruthless against outside threats distinct from the unitary body/organism in order to keep the individual alive, but if it begins to turn its destructive powers on the body itself, the individual is doomed to a short life.)

    Fans of a team may have their own internal conflicts, but they generally get along due to their unifying interest-- they are all for the team, after all, and internal bickering only dilutes solidarity. On the other hand, they are much more apt to view fans of a fierce rival team with distaste, disdain, mockery, etc., especially if these rival fans have the audacity to show their rival colors on the team's home turf. If the competition is fierce enough, the distinctions sharp enough, and the animosities high enough, these relatively mundane behaviors can ignite into violence. Similarly, the home team's best players may take on a nearly mythological status to their fans while the rival team's best players may become reviled, villainous figures berated with merciless boos and insults.

    In this way, the us vs. them mentality creates a sort of meta-evolutionary conflict which makes acceptable-- and even promotes-- attitudes and actions against fellow human beings that in 'normal' human activity would be considered anywhere from inappropriate to inhuman. (Note that sporting rivalries are just one example of this general principle of human nature.)

    As for what enthralls people in sports so strongly in the first place, the sporting/athletic experience actually is deeply rooted in our natural spiritual and aesthetic sensibilities, believe it or not. Rather than expound on this further myself, I will defer to an absolutely fantastic article that states the case much better than I could:


    Some selected quotes:

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