Sports are a major part of the fabric of any country. They give people something to rally around – heroes to cheer and enemies to boo. They also give people something to aspire to. As kids, we all have our idols to look up to.
When you tell people you’re into sport, some people will ask “Do you play?” and then you know they see sport as something you do. Another will ask “Who do you cheer for?”, then you tell them, then they say they’re a Steelers fan and obviously you never speak to them again! (Kidding).
But it does make you think. There are some sports you do, and some you watch. Unless you’re a sports addict, you probably don’t watch much Ten Pin Bowling. Unless you’re a millionaire, you don’t drive a Formula One car. Outside of this, is it OK to be an armchair fan? Or is that living vicariously?
Watching Sports: The Good Side
Sitting in front of the TV or in the bleachers and watching your team is a good metaphor for the human condition. You have your highs and your lows. But you can’t live forever on a win and nor can you dwell on a defeat.
As a kid, sports can help you to learn how to deal with disappointment, and how to win or lose with grace. An excellent sporting role model like Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts can be a great influence. He could have left college to play in the NFL and missed his senior year. But he stuck around another year to get his degree – and then still turned pro.
The Bad Side
As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes watching sport brings out the worst in us. If your team loses and you sulk about it, it sucks the fun out of it for those around you. Getting too invested in a team, or a player, can mean that once February (or October) comes around, you feel at a loose end. Sport should never matter so much that you feel withdrawal.
Playing Sports: The Good Side
It’s important to have an active life – exercise doesn’t just keep your body healthy, but your brain too. Maybe you can’t run all that fast. No problem! Take up golf, download the best golf swing trainer and get good at that. It doesn’t matter what sport you play – but playing can certainly enhance your enjoyment of watching. And it’s a good example to set to kids.
The Bad Side
There are very few downsides to playing sports – as long as you don’t expect to be as good as the professionals. These people have immense natural talent, the best coaches, and the finest equipment. You have what God gave you, plus whatever you can afford.
The one thing to look out for is an excessive competitive streak. If you find yourself trash-talking a friend, maybe ease back on the adrenaline. If you find yourself ankle-tackling your son, stop altogether. It’s gone too far.
Sport can be one of the most life-affirming ways of passing a few hours or one of the most spirit-crushing. It’s up to you and your attitude to make it the former rather than the latter.