I think it is easy to be a fan of a particular team and not be a fan of a sport. Teams are filled with characters and stories that resonate with either a type of individual or a region. If you’re a fan of a sport you’ll watch a game featuring two non-descript college teams halfway across the country and then proceed to tell your friends about it afterward. That’s not to say I totally diminish any fans of a particular team (I’ll bleed New England Patriots’ blood until the day I die), there just seems to be a greater understanding of sport among the fans of the game versus the fans of the team. An appreciation of the purity of said sport.
There is something inspiring about walking on to an football empty field and knowing that, in a short period of time, something bigger than myself will take place on it. I think that is one of the things that I enjoy most about sports. There is a tangible quality to that feeling that we can experience by participating (either directly or indirectly) in the activity.
Additionally, if you ever get proficient in the theory of a sport, there is almost a scientific quality to watching a game: I know that if a quarterback doesn’t keep his back foot planted while throwing a ball that the likelihood the ball will sail over the intended receiver’s head is fairly high, I know that if a receiver plants with his inside foot he is more likely to trip while running a route, and I know that an inch, either way, can change the direction of a kicked ball by significant yards.
And of course there are the senses attributed to a game: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting. One of my favorite things is to see a running back juke someone out of their shoes. There is no sound more distinct than when a shoulder pad hits another guy square on the chest and you see that guy drop – instantly. Or how about how a new ball fresh from plastic feels – an odd semblance of distinct texture and slick surfaces. And all of this mixes in with the smell of freshly cut grass and ice-laden water.
People often scoff when I equate fandom to religion but I think it has a legitimate connection. When have you ever been in large groups of people at one place before? When 40,000-plus people cheer at one time it is nothing short of an uplifting, gratifying experience that touches the very corners of your soul. Being a part of that reinforces every good aspect of humanity.
I wrote this for the daily prompt series.