Why do we love sports?

What's the fascination with sports anyway? Why does it capture our attention like there's no tomorrow? You might have read about the following reasons:

- They give us a sense of belonging 
- We can provide predictions based on limited data and test them right away (no, I am not talking about gambling here)
- They are a test of human spirit and character
- The journey is emotional - full of excitement, anxiety, joy, anger, disbelief ... 

I tend to think there is more... all of the above is much like our real lives, with one crucial difference - the game comes to a logical and physical end. Nothing's hidden - a clear winner emerges (most of the times) for clear reasons. Once the game is over, its over. The decisions taken on field have been proven right or wrong. That is not going to change. That's not the case in real life. Decisions that appear to be right today can be proven wrong years later (or vice-versa). 

"I guess the product wasn't as good as it sounded initially"
"I thought I got this mattress at a good price, but turns out I payed too much for it!"
"My decision was based on the data I had a month back, but now it looks like I made a mess of it"
... that doesn't happen in sports. 

Not many years ago, Greenspan was worshiped like a hero. That opinion took a downturn along with the markets in 2008. That doesn't happen in sports. A winner stays a winner. A mistake stays a mistake. All the knowledge, memory and emotion is almost like what we experience everyday, and it is permanent. That is what makes it special. 

What do you think?

Update: My heart is broken. A childhood hero has retired and I don't care if it was the right moment. People from my generation have to learn to focus on other things and find other things to follow. 


  1. Amit Sharma14.4.11

    Good thought provoking stuff, T. You're becoming the Seth Godin of India, if that's a compliment in any way.

    On the post: well, there are battles and there are wars. Like a game in sports, battles have clear outcomes and measurable success/failure. A product sells or not. Sales targets are met or not. A key hire performs or not. A meeting results in a sale or not.

    But in business, decisions can often only be evaluated over wars- a CEO has to be given min. 3 years to perform, a product should be allowed iterations and changes before its written off (e.g. Alumni management in India ;) ), and so on..

    Which is like saying- "is Dhoni a good captain?" can only be judged after at least a few series.

    So in sports and in business, tactics can be measured and given a verdict quickly, while strategies need to be given time.

  2. All activities whether on sports field or otherwise are of permanent nature. It had to happen that way. For the result, preparation and planning ought to have undertaken in a deliberate way.
    Critics play a major role for all the turn of events. They are the stimulus for better planning.
    A good article ,wish good comments from all quarters