As a teenager I competed in a lot of sports. I competed at the provincial level in horseback riding and running, and I played varsity ice hockey at university. I loved it. I loved competing, the team spirit, training, improving at a skill – any sport, it didn’t matter. Team or individual.
As an adult, time consuming training schedules and expensive competitions don’t get high priority in my life. Family, kids, work, the house all take a higher priority, so I have been out of the competitive realm for many years. These days I do yoga, meditate, chop wood, chase my kids and run (I do dream of running a marathon) – all very introspective, non-competitive “sports”. In my current mindset sports, especially the crazy team spirit of many fans, seem silly.
But then, I only need a very small reminder of the exhilaration of competition to make me yearn for it. Riding a well trained horse in a public setting, or watching my husband race on his dirtbike, instantly gets me energized. I know it costs money, takes up tons of time and doesn’t directly benefit society – but it feels so good. Is it social conditioning? Has evolution made us prefer the a competitive environment? Is it human nature? Is it just me?
There are many people who abhore a competitive environment. I don’t understand that at all. I think they have a mental block and if they were placed in a safe, supportive environment they would appreciate how much fun it is.
I think all fans are just living vicariously through their team. Just like parents live vicariously through their kids. If each of us had the choice, we would rather be part of a team – training, winning, losing, getting better at our preferred skill. Not everyone has the opportunity or dedication to play sports into adulthood, instead slipping into the comfortable role of a fan. Being a fan has many of the same benefits as being an athlete – you get to join in on the thrill and exhilaration of competition. Which is why it is so seductive. But you don’t get the personal satisfaction of getting better at something that comes with actually being on the field – or the physical benefits.
Is there a way to capture the energy and enthusiasm of sport in every person? Can we reframe life as a sport? Where you train and winning, measuring success and skill development are crystal clear and easily celebrated. Where everything in life has a physical element to it, your body and mind have to work together to achieve the next level. What fun.