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The game outside the game

7 Reasons Why We Watch SportsWhile I’m not a sports person, there are quite a few things that revolve around the topic of sports that I find fascinating — like whether football negatively impacts the long-term mental and physical health of its players or why we engross ourselves in daily sports watching.

These are the types of topics that interest a non-sports fan.   

The only sport I’ve ever shown interest in is football, and it’s not the sport itself that I find intriguing. The darker side of football is what fascinates me.

For example, the infamous O.J. Simpson case that kickstarted the Kardashians’ career and had the whole nation debating whether “The Juice” did or did not kill his wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The case primarily focused on why he did what he did, how he did it, or whether he is guilty or not. However, they never considered what led him do what he did until Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, stepped in the picture.

“CTE is believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. It has been found mostly in athletes who play contact sports, such as football,” according to an article written by ESPN news. “Multiple NFL players – including Frank Gifford and Junior Seau – have been diagnosed with CTE after their deaths.”

Omalu said in an ESPN news article that he never diagnosed Simpson personally, but he is willing to bet his medical license that Simpson suffered from CTE as the running back for Buffalo Bills endured many blunt force traumas to his brain over the course of his career.

Unfortunately, CTE can’t be properly diagnosed until after death through an examination of brain tissue. Omalu said that he can identify CTE behavioral symptoms that include explosive, impulsive behavior, impaired judgement, criminality and mood disorders. 

CTE does not lead to criminal behaviors, but it can invoke life-altering damages to a person. O.J. Simpson is not the only victim as many other cases have developed across the nation that resulted from football-related injuries.

“I think because of our intoxication with football, we are in some type of delusional denial, but that is how serious this is,” Omalu said. 

The O.J. Simpson case makes me wonder why people, like myself, are willing to watch such a barbaric sport for entertainment.

There are a million reasons why people enjoy sports, but Daniel Wann, a leading sports-fan psychologist, narrows most of it down to eight different motivations.

Wann said that people like sports because it’s exciting, it boosts their self-esteem, they bet money on it, their friends or family likes sports, it’s a beautiful concept, it’s a way for emotional self-expression, it’s an escape from reality and it’s a sense of belonging and connectivity to the rest of the world. 

“There is no single answer to why people watch sports, because the answer doesn’t lie in the game, it lies inside the individual,” Eric Simons, editorial director at Bay Nature magazine, said. “So, it’s complicated in the same ways all of our relationships are complicated.” 

Everyone has their own reasons for watching sports, and everyone’s perspectives, most often, are the same.

These are the types of sports topics that fascinate the non-sports fan, because they focus on the game outside of the game, the bigger picture.

I may not know how the game is played, but there’s more to sports than the score. 

Category: Opinion