Why We Love Sport (But Don’t Have To…)

I think I’ve figured it out. The mystery behind why we Australians, like sport so much. And it all comes down to this…

Bad news impacts us much more than good news.

Now, stick with me for a second.

Hans Rosling, author of Factfulness, talks about how humanity has instilled within it the Fear Instinct, which seeks out news or threats to our lives from things which we should be afraid of. Historically, these things have been impending disaster or tragedy. Things that we should fear, so that we stay alive.

So, as a result the news each day is filled with stories that cause fear and sadness because that resonates with our fear instinct. In the history of the world, we have never been better at finding the bad news anywhere in our world and immediately broadcasting it to everyone, than we are now. We are more informed today than at any other time about the bad things that happen, but statistically the world has never been less violent and more safe.

What does that have to do with sport?

By the time that Sport gets mentioned on the news on TV, or our news feed, or we scroll down the news webpage to the sport section, we are so desperate for something positive and to feel good about the world we latch onto sport. And when our team wins it pulls us out of our depressed pit we have been living in for 45 minutes and takes us to a place of euphoria (by comparison). We chase that feeling as it becomes the antidote to the horrors in our world.

This is not just an Australian phenomenon. It is global. We think we love our sport in Australia but have you ever been to a sporting event in another country – we are all as crazy as each other.

Really, it just comes down to us understanding and managing our emotions. The world is not all bad with the only shining light being sport. There are so many good things happening for us to feel positive outside of our favourite team having a good game/match/innings/set/season/pre-season/draft.

Plus, sport is a fools antidote, because eventually our team loses and we are back to being depressed, until next week when they are ‘sure to win again’. It’s a never ending cycle. If we can recognise that, yes, there are bad things in the world, injustices and tragedies, but we are in a much better position that we have been for decades, and we don’t need sport to cheer us up. Feel free to start here.

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