Sports provide people from various backgrounds with a common cause to root for. KEITH ALLISON/CC FLICKR

Those who compete in sports at the highest level do so because they have an innate desire to compete and win. For the fans on the outside, myself included, our love for sports is born out of the camaraderie that it creates and the sense of community that it fosters.

Look at the most recent Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, and how their fans reacted on parade day following their victory. People from all walks of life, from South Boston to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined together to celebrate their team’s success.

We love sports because no matter how bad our day has been, the moment that the game begins, it becomes our sole focus for the next few hours. We feel as though we are a part of something much bigger than all of us, and that our fandom is driving the players toward success.

International competitions bring out everyone’s patriotic side too, as even the most casual sports fan has a vested interest in the competition, if not for the love of the sport then at least for the love of their country.

For me, sports have always meant family time. I would sit down with my dad, mom, and sisters, and we would cheer on our favourite teams. We were together in both victory and defeat. Sports draws so many people in, as it gives everybody something to root for and believe in.

— Henry McGowan

The series of small, split-second decisions that comprise a sports game are also forms of communication. One can learn more about another by playing on a team with them for a single game than they could ever get out of a single conversation. The fast-paced nature of most team sports leaves only time for reactions so, on the field, one has no choice but to be oneself.

There is an unwritten code of sportsmanship that applies universally. It is unwritten because it has no language, nor does it need one. When players face each other with animosity all game but then shake hands at the end and walk off together, it speaks louder than words.

Team sports require constant communication, but rarely is any of it expressed aloud. When a play is executed at full speed, players know where the others will be in advance, and this is only possible by sharing the same line of thinking. This is how teammates overcome language barriers. People speak in order to be understood, but if you know where to go before the pass is made, it’s clear that understanding already exists.

Competitiveness is often put in a bad light, but its negative effects come from a rise in intensity, which strengthens all emotions equally. The better side of competition can be more easily understood with a Newtonian approach: all feelings of rivalry toward the opposition have an equal and opposite force that unites one’s own team. This explains why sports create the strongest friendships.

— Matthew Barrett

Sports is an immutable constant for many people all across the globe. This incorporates all denominations, including the classical physical sports, as well as unconventional activities, such as e-sports. There is comprehensive research regarding what motivates us to play and watch sports, and a our evolutionary history has been revealed to be a key driver.

Evolutionary theory can be applied to all facets of our lives, and sports are no exception. This is not to say that evolution is the only factor at play. There are many reasons why we watch and play sports, but evolution is a vital force in the development of our species, and its effects in the realm of physical activity are fascinating.

Sports, at their core, are displays of physical strength. All animals exhibit their strengths to attract mates and intimidate rivals. In response to such presentations, members of the species gather to search for a suitable mate or possibly learn more about the competition and decisions they must face.

As a result, there is a theory surrounding the viability of sports: for any sport to be viable, it must meet minimum levels of informativeness, accuracy, and transparency. That is to say, it must provide accurate and accessible information about its participants to the viewer.

However, the matter is not all black and white. Humans are very complex beings, and our interest in sports also involves a certain level of subjectivity, otherwise an audience is not entertained. Oftentimes, cultural norms also play a role in sports and their reception; despite lacking explicit displays of strength, some activities elevate participants’ standings in society. Additionally, team sports exhibit and teach team building and leadership skills that are imperative to all members of a community.

Clearly, there is a lot driving our love for sports, but one thing is without doubt: they are here to stay.

— Junaid Ishaq

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required

Tags: , ,