What is it about our sports teams that possesses us so?
Brazil’s soccer team loses in the World Cup, and a nation plunges into despair, mourning and an angry orgy of recrimination. A national tragedy, it seems.
LeBron James takes his talents home, and a city erupts in joy and thanks. The Second Coming, if you will.
We’ve all been to college football and basketball games and seen fans in a frenzy – either of uncontrolled ecstasy or of rage directed at the refs, the other team and sometimes their own team and coach. You expect fists to fly and heads to explode.
We’ve seen the obsession with winning and losing games sully the reputation of a great University, cost it the leadership of an able Chancellor and force it to suffer through year after year of lurid news headlines and embarrassing, never-ending investigations.
A psychologist or sociologist probably could easily explain some primal, tribal need that these rituals satisfy: wearing the colors, joining in the chants and losing ourselves in the outcome of a contest between two groups of physically gifted but often emotionally or even mentally stunted young men. (And it is only for the teams composed of young men.)