There is Nothing Zen About Spectating Sports

Now that the world cup is over, we can continue on with our lives and look back at what an amazing event that allows people from all around the world to interact and compete amongst one another in a game viewed all around the world. The fact that people from all around the world can come together and appreciate a competitive sport should be celebrated on it’s own.

Wait, is that not how the population celebrates sporting events?

Now that I have seen my first World Cup match, not only do I have something relevant to talk about amongst co-workers, but during the second half of the match I began to notice how passionate football fans take their spectating. You (the spectator) take your sports very seriously. Way more than what I could ever anticipate. Very few english words can describe just how many emotions people invest in watching sports , and how they choose to express them. Being from the United States, we Americans generally show our emotions through alcoholic beverages and through acts of belligerent violence. So it is a delightful change of pace to see spectators wearing their hearts on their sleeves and showing genuine pent of angst, and sadness when things don’t go their way. It takes a lot of bravery to show a vulnerable side of yourself for the world to see, and I commend you for that.

I do not consider myself a sports fan. While it fits the same literal definition, the term “cycling” and “sport” showed no correlation in my head. I biastly show a decreased amount of interest to things that do not involve two wheels, or in the general field of science. Even when I (currently) am watching every non-cyclist’s go-to conversation piece when it comes to that world (I am speaking of course about the Tour de France) I spectate from a different perspective.

As much as I would love to see the pro team who rides the same bike as I win every race out there, the realist in me knows that this is a highly unlikely event. My inner skeptic keeps me from committing to a particular team, or sometimes a particular rider. This leaves me with a more impartial frame of mind when it comes to the big race. I love the sport of cycling (even typing that felt a little weird) so much that I have grown to admire it and enjoy it in the grand spectacle that it is. An opportunity for riders all around the world to share the same road with one another, riding across the beautiful (and sometimes gritty and miserable) roads all over the world. This brings people from all over the globe together to admire one another and show one’s appreciation for both where they’ve come from, and who they want to win. This came across as more important to me than who will win what jersey. There is so much more to bike racing than the narrow idea of winning and losing. Sadly, cycling is one of the few competitive sports that seem to share this idea (that and the olympics.)

There appears to be a lot less comradery between sports fans, unless they happen to be rooting for the same team. Is it wrong of me to want everyone to be able to appreciate another team’s victory other than that of your home country? Or is it more fitting for me to think it’s normal for people to pout and cry over a game that they were not directly involved with and arguably had little to no control over? If it’s more fitting to take the lower, more childish road, I could (and still do) get a real kick out of watching others show tears of unmistakable sadness over “their” team that “they” are somehow a part of. While it is easy for me to take that lower road, another part of me longs for sports fans to appreciate the game for what it is, a game.

As glorified as sports like football and cycling have become, we must look back and see it for what it is. When we grasp the concept that such a simple idea as kicking a ball through a goal or pedaling a bicycle can provoke such a strong following and get people to travel all over the world just to watch, it is then that we can appreciate it from an impartial stance. Don’t get me wrong, football is a very powerful game with a serious following. I’m sure today’s match either made or ruined someone’s week. Now no matter what goes on for the rest of the week whether it be good or bad, fans still have to live and deal with the fact that their team either won or lost the championship match. Coping with this can be difficult and requires a large psychologic study I am not qualified to interpret, but this shows how powerful a sport like this can be.

To attempt to tie this all together, if instead of solely hoping, praying, and ritualizing your entire life around your home team to go for goal, instead try to see whichever sport of your choosing as one grand event bringing different cultures together despite whatever political conflicts we may have. This way we will limit ourselves from both feeling like the arrogant and snobby elitists of the world, but from feeling like our life has no meaning and that we must resort to acts of violence to justify our existence. Something about sports seems to get humans caught up in emotions on exponential levels, the same as (but not nearly as intense) as driving does. What I am trying to say is to figuratively ride the emotional waves that come with watching sports and go with the flow of things. If you lose, you lose, and if you win, you win. But don’t try and amplify your win or loss into something that it is not. Keep a happy medium and prevent the tempting extremes from turning you into an emotionally naive barbarian.



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