What is it about sports that has us so involved? The world over, sports - whatever form they take - make billions of dollars. But that doesn't even begin to describe the hold that it has over people. It's not just a profitable business, but a way of life, a part of culture.
It can even be used to pinpoint differences between nations. Here - I'll prove it: for the English (and indeed most of the world), there's nothing but football. But being the English, we still must cling to the past - those glory days of the Great British Empire - thus, rugby and cricket are still popular sports. The United States, never ones to conform, invented their own versions of certain sports, and they have became the main ones today - American football, baseball, basketball. And the French...well the French like whichever sport they're doing best in...so I would say rugby right now...but we'll come to that...
Still though, why is it that we are still so enthralled with such a seemingly inconsequential thing? One might point to a common phrase, "it's only a game!" But is it?
Let's look at a couple of examples from this weekend.
Provo is buzzing right now. There isn't a soul at BYU who hasn't heard the name Jimmer Fredette, or at least a little bit about the massive top 10 win over SDSU, which launched them to No. 3 in both national polls. A win like that can really change the mood around a place, and certainly has done wonders for the LDS church's national exposure.
England beat France this weekend. No, there was not a war. Not of that kind anyway. But this was a huge game. Why? Well, OK both teams were unbeaten in this year's Six Nations tournament. But ALSO, this was England v. France. It's a rivalry that goes back centuries. Previously manifested in real wars, now it is only existent in sport. But what an existence it has.
And here is where we get a key reason as to why sport is so huge. It has such an important role to play in modern-day patriotism. This is why sporting rivalries so often continue old political rivalries. Take the World Cup this year. The USA saw the England match as a massive game, because of the history between the two countries. Such is the case between England and Argentina, France and Italy, or Germany and....well, anyone. And surely that can only be a good thing? If patriotism is kept alive through sport and not war, I'm sure there will be no complaints.
Unity. The Olympics happens every four years, but every time it does, we see the whole world sitting down to enjoy the individual achievements of others. The same thing happens with the World Cup. We may be competing against each other, but really we're all united.
Which leads me to...
Individual greatness. We all love inspirational stories like the one above. There is nothing like hearing a story of someone who has overcome all odds to achieve greatness. And in today's society, sporting achievements are the epitome of physical greatness. As is this man:
And besides all that, sport is just really fun! Anyone can go to a game/match/test and have the time of their life being part of a crowd of die-hard fans. In Shakespeare's time, this is what the theatre was like, but for us, there exists something that might just be better. The world of professional sport. You just have to pick a side!