If you have been looking for a hobby that keeps your interest, especially during the last year, you might be surprised as to what you have picked up. Many people discovered a penchant for jigsaws or painting. Others have finally got into things that all their other friends had already been into for years but finally understood why. Sport is one of those things that you either grow to love, or are vastly indifferent to. And the various states of quarantines and lockdowns have forced us to try new things. And thankfully, the sports have mainly been a constant. But for those of you out there that do not really care for sport, now might be the opportunity. It’s not just about providing a distraction, but there are many benefits of getting into watching sport on television and having sport in your life.
It’s a Real-Life Soap Opera!
People in offices up and down the land have engaged in fantasy football drafts for years. Because you are engaging in something that you do not know the outcome of makes it incredibly exciting. And when you look at the predictions for the soccer season and start to hedge your bets, there is no guaranteeing what will happen. And the great thing about getting into sport when you know nothing about it is that it’s all fresh, new, and exciting. You can always ask people for advice, but when you are getting into sports for the first time, especially later in life, you are basically where your friends were at the age of 10! The fact that you’re watching something that you have no idea how it will pan out is unpredictable and exciting.
The Tribal Mentality
“Did you watch the game last night?” “No, I didn’t!” If this is a common exchange in your life, you may be missing out on something. Sports are a tribal, community-based activity. And while this puts a high brow spin on the idea, the great thing about being in a group of people watching a sport is that you’ll get suckered into the atmosphere. And it’s something that we can greatly underestimate. If you are not into sports, but now you are changing your ways, you may finally get a feeling of what it’s like to be involved with a group of people cheering on your team. It’s a great way to get caught up in the spirit of sport. And yes, the tribal mentality can go a bit too far. Not everybody is keen on “chugging” or drinking games, but you can still enjoy a sport in a group of people.
How It Benefits Your Brain…
Sports have a significant impact on your brain. When you start to think about the fact that sport is the most popular thing on TV, you’ve got to look at why it is so popular. And it may very well be to do with how it benefits your brain. You may have looked at sports as a passive pastime, but there are so many benefits to watching sports.
- It reduces your risk of depression. You may think that if a team loses, it can be the worst thing in the world, but the long-term result of watching sports can actually improve mental well-being. As well as when you’re watching games in a group setting, this increases your interaction and building bonds result in a healthy social life. But also, viewing a game as part of a community can greatly reduce any feelings of anxiety.
- It gives your brain a workout. You may be looking at sports fans as typically hot-headed, with brawn more than brain. But sports on television can improve neural connections. Watching sports and participating in the experience, as well as talking about them, improves connections relating to comprehension and linguistic ability.
…And Your Body
Sports are obviously beneficial for your body when you are doing it, but you might be surprised as to how watching a sport can get you physically exhausted. You can put so much mental strain into watching a sport that it can leave you completely drained. A study highlighted that increasing muscle activity while viewing a sport passively is possible. Sports that involve fast-paced activity experienced rises in blood pressure and muscle nerve activity.
The physical benefits of sports for many are offset by consuming beer and chips, but the concept of muscle nerve activity is not too indifferent to athletes. It is something worth thinking about, especially when you consider that your brain exerts a lot of calories as well. Actually watching a sport that you are involved in can be physically exhausting. Another study conducted asked participants to imagine they were taking part in the activity they were watching, and while you will not get physically fit watching a sport, the energy exertion highlighted that there are some benefits to watching a sport on television.
The Motivation in Watching a Sport
There’s a lot at stake when you are watching your favorite team. The threats of relegation in English football, or the pressures that you feel when Tom Brady is out there. And all of these little things are beneficial to us because we are experiencing a severe amount of motivation. When we feel motivated in life, we feel we have a purpose. When we watch sports, we can feel motivated in so many different ways. Watching a sport gives you the motivation to fully engross yourself in something that feels, literally, like life or death. But in addition to this, watching sports can force you to start working on yourself. There is a fine balance between watching people that are physically fit and the inspiration they give us. And there’s a lot to be said for people who go too far in one direction to make themselves lose weight, but when you start to see sports stars achieving physical feats of strength, or using their mind over their matter, it gives you the inspiration to see how far you can go.
When we look at marathon runners, we have to remember it’s not just about the physical aspect. The mental aspect is just as important, if not more important. And the whole idea of sports psychology is an incredibly interesting one. From the perspective of someone watching a sport from an armchair, it can be easy to pass comment. But when you start to look at the things they have to go through, and the sacrifices they have to make, if you start to incorporate any of these into your life, such as the workout routine Tom Brady does, or the mental exercises any Olympian athlete has to undertake before they go out there, we can feel what they are feeling. And the motivation it gives us is not just a way to cheer on your favorite team, but it can make us better ourselves.
The Distraction From the Real World
From the halftime show at the Super Bowl to the local pee-wee football league, sports provide a wonderful distraction from what is going on. And now, for people that have never got into sports, they may very well understand the reasons why it is so important to have sport in their life. The ongoing pandemic has made us all look at the things in our lives that are important but also realize when we are being oversaturated with negativity. Sports has been a long-standing passion for people because they invest their lives into something that is far removed from their normal day-to-day existence. And now, distractions have never been more welcome. It is, arguably, the one thing that can take us away from what is going on right now. Because sport is not just about a little distraction, but it’s something you can fully invest your life into, it is the perfect opportunity to truly focus on something that involves your mind, body, and soul. And it’s something that we all need right now.
We live in a world with so much negativity and bad news, that we need to channel our energies into something that gives us the highs and lows, but without feeling the visceral hurt. And sports is something that has been used as a tonic for centuries. And if you are someone that is getting into sports now, only now you might understand what sports are doing for you. Sports gives you the motivation to look at how others are dealing with pressures, but you are so far removed from it that you don’t have to feel the stress as yourself. It gives you the opportunity to engage in the drama, argue for something, but also experience the highs when your team has won.
All of these reasons have been around for so long, but if you are finding that life is getting on top of you, or you are struggling to find some meaning, or you just cannot focus, sports may very well be the solution. It is a fantastic distraction from life, but long after life returns to normal, it could be something that gives you meaning to life as well.