How Do Sports Influence Society?

How Do Sports Influence Society?Sports are a social avenue for society to celebrate the greatness of the human spirit.  How important is this?  In 1870, the spirit of France was demoralized, broken  by a lost war.  Then along came French educator, Pierre de Courbertin, who revived the ideals of the Olympic Games.  Today, the standards and ideals exemplified by these games where the finest athletes compete inform our lives in many ways.

Imagine, for instance, if ancient Greece had decided not to champion the ideals of mind, body, and spirit through the Olympics.  Imagine, if the hendiatris “Citius, Altius, Fortius” the Latin words for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” meant nothing to us.   Imagine, if every four years, there would be—nothing.

If that’s not bleak enough–imagine a world without World Cup Soccer or without the Superbowl, or imagine a world without national or international championships of any kind.

Actually, the idea of a world without sports is disturbing, even for those who do not actively engage in it.  Perhaps, board games might have a bigger impact than they do now, with millions eagerly watching every chess move or hand of card played during international tournaments.  Yet somehow, it’s not quite the same.  We need the excitement of things moving quickly, of action, suspense, and drama all set against a background of fair rules and zealously-enforced regulations.  At a deep psychological, and even archetypal level, human beings crave the thrill of sudden victories, unexpected comebacks, and champions rising to the occasion, bravely representing their team, their country, and our collective honor.  Athletic performance vivify the archetype of the Hero’s Journey which can be found in all world mythologies.

Why, then, do sports mean so much to human civilizations?  Why does the idea of a world without sports appear to have a sinister edge to it?

Here are three reasons why sports make us feel more alive in the world:

First, they inspire us like nothing else.  When we watch people do things that we would not have the strength, stamina, agility, or daring to do ourselves, we feel a sense of awe.  We also feel a huge desire to do the things that we can do well even better.  This inspiration is enough to change our lives.

Second, sports give us a sense of camaraderie like nothing else can.  Sitting in a stadium watching a football game, standing on the front lines of a field watching track and field, or waiting out in the open country for the next marathon runner to show up gives us a sense of community, participation, and enjoyment.  Sometimes this sense of joy is loud, as in shouting, cheering, and whistling.  At other times, it is subdued, quiet, and anxious.  As we share these intense feelings with others around us, it somehow it brings us all closer together.

Third, sports when we participate in them, force us to new heights of self-discipline and physical exertion that we would never have the will to do without the stimulation of participating in an athletic career.  Sports change our character, making us more disciplined, resolute, and determined. Sports training push us to never give up.  We relish competing against others and our own past performance.  A side-effect of all this is that sports transform our health.  Physical activities reduce or prevent diseases like diabetes, cancers, and obesity.

Sports have a positive impact on us as participants and spectators.  They give our lives meaning, purpose, and direction.  They allow us to switch gears, moving from the mundane to the exceptional.  It excites us tremendously to be able to run, swim, and jump faster than ever before.  We marvel at gymnastics, thrill over slalom skiing, and leap with excitement when a runner moves faster than any other human being in the history of the world.  If it were not for sports, we would not have ways to teach our children about greatness, we would have a paucity of role models, and we would be impoverished by a lack of vision of what was possible for a human being.

Sports are such an integral part of human society, dating back centuries that it is actually difficult to conceive of any human civilization consisting entirely of work, chores, study, relationships, and entertainment alone.

Sarah writes at Allpro Sports her blog about sports reviews.

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