Sport and Competition

The Importance of Sports

Sports—particularly school and professional sports—are more than just fun and games and entertainment for the masses. Athletes, coaches, parents, and fans are drawn to the training, focus, discipline, loyalty, competitiveness, identity, and individual and team performances that are hallmarks of sports culture. For young people, sports are a means to physical and emotional well-being and the development of strong leadership skills like communication and organization. Sports can play a potential role in alleviating a wide range of social problems in communities that may otherwise be afflicted with high rates of substance abuse, crime, academic underachievement, and lack of a cohesive social identity. Fighting to win draws on cooperation, concentration, coordination, and creativity—all goals worth striving for in their own right. Why are some people so involved in competition? What is the motivation for continually improving performance? Some answers to these and other questions are found here.

The Love of the Game

The role of a sport in the lives of its fans is as complex as the role of sports in society at large. In many ways, a sports team becomes an extension of the fan’s identity, self-esteem and sense of belonging. Teams and their players are connected to their fans like family; they are a community, like any other. There may be neurological reasons for this, one theory being that mirror neurons in the brains of fans align with and reflect those of their favorite team members. Win or lose, they share the same feelings of honor or failure and react accordingly.

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