It's late on a Tuesday night. There is free-flowing booze, Anisha is complaining about her relationship with Samip. Nirmal is worried about his upcoming job interview. Birad is a tad nervous about his tax evasion trial. Siddant is fishing for change, for a tree house. Just then, on the big pub TV…… it's the Champions League Final. We all breathe easy…….and take a seat.
After a tiring day of classes and work, I relax on my living room sofa and turn on the television. Without a second thought, I switch the channel to Sony Six to watch the Euros. Sports is a stress buster for me. I turn to sport for a variety of reasons, but one of the reasons is that it does provide an escape from the everyday realities of life. No matter how bad the day was, sports just freshen up my mind. However, it is not just limited to enjoyment; it is a roller coaster of emotions. One minute, you are there hugging your pals for the amazing dunk by LA Lakers. The next minute your team gets beaten by a buzzer-beater. For some people, their mental health is determined by whether Manchester United can grab all three points on Sunday or even if New Zealand can hold on until the first session of the Test match.
So how do individuals start to support the team? When one started watching this sport, it may be the most successful club. Possibly one is only a sucker for underdogs. Possibly that was the team one’s circle supported and was simpler to make dialog about. There may be so many more. It is easy to support a team that has won many trophies. We all like winners. In addition to having the joy of success, one will get bragging rights with one’s pals. One might think there is a beautiful woman or a handsome man by one’s side.
However, even success will get boring after some time. Then again if one’s team’s performance is in a gentle decline it turns into a difficult situation for oneself. But one doesn’t simply abandon the team and bounce ship as one has spent time and feelings for the team. One has developed an affinity for the group, one identifies with the group. In fact, one may at all times want to be with a prettier lady or a good looking man. However what about on a regular basis you spent with the current one? In sports the players change, the managers change and even the team owners change, however, the fan stays. Some say “It’s just a game.” But the impact these sports has on the world is remarkable.
In certain instances, sports unifies people through the grip it has on people’s emotions. Critical theorists would purport that sports is a tool used by the elites to distract the masses from what is really important and is a tool used to perpetuate power. However, as we have seen from the example of South African rugby, particularly the 1995 World Cup of Rugby, sport can be a powerful form of reconciliation. When Nelson Mandela wore a Springboks jersey and cap, he signified to all South African citizens that it was time to unify. It took a lot of courage for him to do that as there were people on both sides still looking for blood and revenge. However, as history has shown, it was one small gesture that was the beginning of an avalanche of hope and reconciliation. Mandela said it all when he said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
Similarly, after the English Premier League resumed after 3 months, players took a knee to symbolize that Black Lives Matter. The back of each player’s jersey bore not their name but the slogan Black Lives Matter. Badges on their sleeves that once bore the same phrase have since replaced by new ones reading No Room For Racism.
There have been hundreds of moments where sports has impacted lives. Baseball was born out of the Great Depression and united the entire country when it was at its lowest point. The entire Athletic Club Bilbao players shaved their heads in support of their fellow teammate's battle with cancer. Valencia players wore their jersey with Nepali script on their back, in support of the families affected by the earthquake in Nepal. Denmark's players had to form a protective ring around their teammate Christian Erisksen to block cameramen and TV broadcasters from taking footage of him being treated in the field after he collapsed during a game. You know, it’s more than just a game.