posted on: July 17, 2020
author: Anthony Pellegrino
Most people today can agree that sports are a great and significant part of human culture. They’re fun, they’re exciting, they’re good for you, both for the players and the spectators alike. But, while these ideas seem self-evident, have you ever asked yourself if we need sports? Or, more specifically, why we need them?
This isn’t a new question. In fact, it has its origins in Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics. Ancient philosophers put enormous emphasis on athletic performance. Athletics were a way to objectively measure a person’s worth, to differentiate who among them was most qualified to lead, and as a possible cure to social inequalities. It was very apparent to the ancient Greeks why they required sports-it was ultimately very important for the way they organized their society.
However, much has changed since then. While we still have the Olympics, our leaders are not chosen based on their prowess as an athlete or a warrior. But that doesn’t mean we still don’t need sports as much as the Ancients did. In fact, you can go as far as to say that sports are more important now than they’ve ever been.
Sports are necessary for all of us on an individual level for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, they’re often perfect vehicles to teach us, especially as children or young adults, lessons that transcend the sport themselves. This is especially clear to see within something like martial arts, whose emphasis on discipline, honor, and respect are nearly synonymous with the sport itself.
Ultimately though, all sports function in this way. Athletics teach people the value of teamwork, sportsmanship, discipline, and hard work. People can learn these life lessons by playing these sports much more effectively than if you were to just lecture at them instead, for example.
By and large, sports are necessary for our individual development. More often than not, playing a sport, especially when you’re young, results in you becoming a better person, not just physically or athletically, but socially, mentally, and ethically. We need sports because life requires people to learn some tough lessons, and athletics is the perfect vehicle to accomplish that.
That is, as long as the environment surrounding the sport is a positive one. If an athlete is suffering an abusive coach or toxic expectations from their support network, these priceless life lessons and values can’t properly be taught. While the actual sport is necessary for the values to be taught in the first place, the environment around the individual is what determines the level of character building.
Professional sports play a crucial social role in today’s world. Just look at how many people fill the stadiums of professional games everywhere in the world. Whether it be soccer, or tennis, or football, or baseball, or hockey-professional sports games are regularly the most attended social functions in our society. And the value that these events provide goes beyond just the fun and camaraderie felt in the moment.
Here’s a great example. Remember when Andy Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, the first time a British man won in 77 years? When Murray finally defeated Djokovic, the crowd went wild. Check it out here:
But Murray wasn’t the only one who won that day. All of Great Britain won that day. The sheer greatness of that cultural moment for the British people was palpable through my television screen.
But Wimbledon isn’t alone in this respect. These major matchups mean everything to the people that identify with them. When the New England Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 Superbowl, there were riots at Umass Amherst. And this is by no means anomalous. Fans taking to the streets after a major victory/defeat happens all the time, especially in hugely popular sports like football or soccer.
Not everything has that same capability. Now, it’s not to say that people should be rioting or looting after a major sporting event, but the fact that people frequently do such that just demonstrates how important these sporting events are for our collective society. Just think about watching a championship game in a sports bar while the home team wins. And then suddenly, you’re celebrating with complete strangers.
That’s why we need sports-it brings us together.
It’s pretty obvious that sports are one of the most valuable things in human societies. It even seems a little silly to question that, but asking why we need sports may not always be something people do. But, as we’ve seen, we do need them. Quite frankly, we need them a lot.
You can go as far as to say that nothing performs the same social function that sports do. So, keep that in mind next time you’re kicking back and watching the game. This isn’t only something we enjoy, this is something we need.
Anthony Pellegrino is a freelance journalist, writer, and content marketing strategist. He is currently studying to get his B.A. in Philosophy at Fort Hays State University. He works as contributor to Pulse Magazine and as a freelance content creator for several marketing agencies and brands. His writing is focused on philosophy of mind, metaphysics, politics, everyday life, and content marketing.
Learn more about the author: http://tonyp.press