For 12 years, I have been an avid fan of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers (this is the point at which you simply nod and don’t bring up bad memories from last year). For each of those 12 years, my parents have been attempting to reprimand me for excessive passion of an insignificant cause.
At a certain point though, watching Kobe fill up scoreboards on a small television just was not enough.
I wanted to learn more, I needed to be a student of the game of basketball. I soon became obsessed with a writer by the name of Bill Simmons and kept an ESPN tab open on my computer at all times.
I spent hours and days of my life not studying and instead reading about basketball. Soon enough, I found that I was using my time on something that had no practical purpose for me. I hesitated momentarily, but persisted. I began reading and writing for fun, and for the first time in my entire life, I enjoyed learning.
Although I was content, self-satisfaction was not enough. I wanted to be a selfless human being and share my newfound revelation with the rest of the world. I realized that, in all reality, sports play a huge social and cultural impact on the world at large.
We all know the financial effect of sports, that each individual sport is a multi-billion dollar industry (with the exception of soccer; sorry soccer, you’re still not big in the U.S.), providing millions of people with jobs. When we really take a step back though, why does the majority of society care what insanely athletic people do with their time?
Why do we (for the record, this does not include me — I happen to still be underage) get together with our friends, throw around a few beers and spend whole Sundays watching grown men pound each other to bits and take off years from the tail ends of their lives?
The truth is, we don’t really care about these guys. The next day, we will be in our office cubicles or Doe Library getting back to our business being nerds.
With all this in mind, what drives us to dedicate so much of our time to sports? It definitely is not to take a break from our lives — lord knows there are many other ways to do that.
The reason sports are an integral part of society is that they are a universal medium that all people can relate to. We support the teams that our parents and grandparents supported. We go to sporting events with our friends who support the same teams and high five all of the random fans around us when our team scores.
The reason is, we want to be a part of something. We want to be in a group that shares the same ideas. In a sense, sports have become a religion of sorts for fans (Raider Nation, anyone?). They let us develop our own traditions and culture, and they are passed down through generations.
In the end, we don’t care about sports. We care about the hope and emotions we feel out of following them. We care about the rush we get from our team winning, and most of all, we care about sharing that feeling with the people we care about.
Now, if you will please excuse me, I must leave and mope about my world champion Los Angeles Lakers not playing for another whole year.
Thank God for the Niners.