Over the course of generations sport has been interwoven into the fabric of most cultures, so interlaced the operations of societies are impacted by the events. To save themselves from being sacrificed the Aztecs bumped a ball through a hanging hoop, for pillaging rights the Vikings would use animal skins for tug-of-war, Romans at the coliseum saw the Emperors strength with the twitch of a wrist; although bringing communities together, sport has likewise contributed to establishing the hierarchy within them.
Many of the traits society holds in high regard are vividly displayed in sport, courage, selflessness, integrity, determination, not always seen in the bourgeois life but recurrently witnessed on the playing field. Whilst sport is apt at raising group morale the state have speciously used it for misdirection, orientating the gaze of citizens to what they want them to see. Sport goes beyond those participating in the game with a palpable presence of the event influencing and developing portions of community life, imbedding the activities in collective consciousness of the society.
The Palpable Presence
One of, if not the most talked about subject in the world is sport; how many friendships began from or are based on an interest in sport or a sporting team? Providing people a foundation for dialogue sport breaths life into a community, it allows different members to gain familiarities with others through a common interest.
A superlative attribute of sport is its cross-cultural ability; individuals from vastly different upbringings can raise their opinions and debate over athletes. Each individual, of course, professing their knowledge to be supreme over a rivals. Even without a mutual language sport enables a universal dialogue through names, gestures and video highlights.
Sport has continuously brought people together from the grandeur of the Football World Cup to a pick-up game on a beach with local children, it engages all those invested in the event to be present in the moment and appreciate the joy and distaste of victory and defeat. A tangible atmosphere brews when a sporting event is forthcoming; a community administers a socialist approach to get operations in order, yet a tribalistic mentality focuses people on the supposed saliency of their preferred team.
For many individuals life is a sequence of repeated mundanity and sport allows a temporary breaking of the cycle. People can impart purpose onto their or their favourite athletes endeavours offering a reason to rise in the morning, get through the day so they can play with or watch their team at night.
As Henry David Theroux stated, “Most men live a life of quiet desperation,” and for at least a short period their despair can dissipate in the ether of athletic performance.
Sport not only works to develop relationships in the community but also influences the way individuals conduct themselves within it. Dating back to when conflict was consistently hovering, the sporting field provides a platform for many attributes honoured in society to be exhibited.
Athletes routinely display acts of heroism, incorporating virtuous qualities beneficial to a community. An athlete putting their body on the line to win a crucial moment illuminates how courage is necessary in confronting adversity, the synchronisation of teammates executing a play demonstrating the auspiciousness of teamwork, observing the commitment athletes have for both their team and their sport can inspire others to hold an analogous guarantee to their own goals.
Both athletes and fans embody passion, an intrinsic yearning to defend ones tribe against adversaries. Although not apparent in every athlete or fan, there is an overwhelming amount of respect placed upon the game itself and those participating, both friend and foe. The idea of sportsmanship levels out rivalry with objectivity; the best team winning on the day is a constituent in sport just like in life, it is only through being tested does the team collectively improve.
Athletes take on an essential role in the community offering a diverse array of people to admire, embodying the image of a modern day hero. Anyone who enjoys sport cannot deny having a favourite athlete as a hero of theirs at some point in their life, and this is why it’s so devastating when they are accused of misconduct. Athletes are held in such high regard when they act erroneously it is as if Batman has made an error, with superhero status projected onto sporting heroes it fractures our innocent interpretations of their divine character.
Bigger Than Oneself
As mentioned previously many fans take on a tribalistic affinity with their selected team, feeling the white-hot intensity of meaning as they vehemently defend their tribe.
Many individuals find purpose by attaching themselves to something larger than their mere existence. Sport being imbedded with admirable characteristics and most towns, if not cities having a team its only natural for people searching for validation to find it here. By linking oneself to an identity bigger than ones own people can build resilience during times of adversity, leaning upon their tribe and gaining confidence in the efforts of athletes.
Objectively observing a sporting event it’s rather interesting to see ample amounts of adults wear the names of other adults on their backs as they head to an arena. Although the ground stays the same, personal are frequently recycled meaning a team 5 years ago may not even resemble the current one. Whilst some chose their team in adulthood, for the majority their side is chosen for them in childhood and for years a sense of kinship is deeply nestled within their disposition; for them the team is more than just a location or colours, but a culture their psyche has been dyed in.
Sport has been enriching to the lives of many people yet one must be wary not to let their philosophies be defined by whom they support. It is propitious to have an outlet outside of the humdrum of daily life but nothing is good in excess, unwarranted attention and dedication towards ones team often leads to a misconstrued reality; it can be said, it’s better to be a fan than a fanatic.
Since it’s initiation sport has played a prominent part in communities and its capacity to encapsulate the minds of the masses is striking. Disposed with a language of movement, there is nearly no other phenomenon which has the ability to instantaneously traverse cultures and bring people together in spectacle. Sport has been able to give citizens vivid displays of commendable behaviour scarcely seen in daily life, it imparts vigour into individuals and offers a vehicle for testing one’s aptitude.
Although the field is where events take place the real essence of sport is found amongst fans. It’s not really about the colours or scoreboard or athletes, but the personal connection it evokes within seemingly different individuals, and how these modern tribes shape the lives of followers.
Image Source: DNA India