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What science can tell sportswriters about why we love sports

Explaining Sports Appeal

  • Talent-Luck Theory: Sports appeals to a lot of people due to its ability to balance skill with randomness.
  • Mirror Neurons: Many fans are able to feel what the player is feeling, and experience the excitement first-hand in his mind, with no barrier between the self and the outside world.

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What science can tell sportswriters about why we love sports

What science can tell sportswriters about why we love sports

https://archives.cjr.org/full_court_press/science_sportswriting.php

archives.cjr.org

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Key Ideas

Sports Fans

Sports is a big deal across the world, with die-hard fans who are extremely emotional towards their home teams. It is hard to pinpoint the motivations of a sports fan, and why a win or a loss of a team matters so much.

Sportswriters have to be careful to navigate the complex emotional landscape, writing about sports in a way politics is written about: Avoiding verbal minefields.

Why We Love Sports

Sports psychologists have a list of why people love sports:

  • Sports carry self-esteem benefits.
  • Commercial reasons (money bets etc.).
  • Peer pressure of being part of their group.
  • Sports are exciting.
  • Sports is an aesthetically pleasing activity.
  • A venue for emotional expression.
  • Sports is an escape from real-world problems.
  • Sports provide a sense of connectedness and belonging.

Explaining Sports Appeal

  • Talent-Luck Theory: Sports appeals to a lot of people due to its ability to balance skill with randomness.
  • Mirror Neurons: Many fans are able to feel what the player is feeling, and experience the excitement first-hand in his mind, with no barrier between the self and the outside world.

Us Vs Them

Human beings have always been motivated by being a part of a certain group, while automatically being at ‘war’ with the other group(s). 

This basic ‘us vs. them’ attitude is hard-wired in most of us.

The Fans

Sports fans are like us only, having a common set of values, beliefs, and life experiences. 

Sports is like a thrilling emotional roller coaster ride for them, a movie to which they have surrendered themselves.

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