How Sport Holds Society Together

In a world of fragmentation and drift, there is only one thing left that holds us together. And that is sport.

Let’s look at why Sport works

1. Big Numbers – national leagues draw in 10’s and 100’s of millions of people. If society is about a shared experience, then professional sport can reach out to everyone.

2. Heroes and Villains – the human mind works best at the storytelling level. It’s about people and how to cope with them. We all have our favourite players and we have fun dissing the other team.

3. Reality Check – there is almost near unlimited choice out there. How do we decide what is “slightly” better? Sport makes the decision for us. It’s there, Friday night, 8pm.

4. Full On Action – in a world of office rats and chair warmers, we all yearn for a bit of action. Movement, power, speed – we can enjoy it all from the sofa.

5. Tight Focus – big leagues typically have 10-15 teams with 100-150 players. Even tennis has a top 100. When we talk about Tiger Woods, it is that Tiger Woods.

6. We All Admire – champion players go beyond the field. We can all admire their fighting spirit, their grit, their skill and dedication, their heart, their struggle.

7. The Big Build – ten minute segments build a game, and lots of games go into a season. There are playoffs, then the big epic final. Sport has a sense of purpose.

All these qualities of sport go beyond the individual and permeate into the society. It is what binds us together.


9 Responses to “How Sport Holds Society Together”

  1. rlao Says:

    I love sports, both playing them and watching them. I watch them because I want to learn from them, just like free lessons. I rarely admire them as I really don’t know them and whatever I know, it has been filtered or colored by media. But I do admire certain quality when I see it validating my values. 🙂 Aren’t we usually like that?

    Men are known to hide their feeling therefore sports is one topic that can be safely discussed without the danger of exposing one’s true feelings. In a way, it is a superficial and tenuous connection but it does provide a foundation and opportunity to spend more time that we have less and less as we get older. However, most women do not talk about sports. They don’t need sports as a crutch and hide behind it when interacting.

  2. ggwfung Says:

    yes, I’ve sort of left women out of this discussion; they aren’t into sports that much. They have to buy into it second hand, because that’s what all the guys talk about.

    I couldn’t think of any other binding force in society. Politics? not respected. Religion? the choice is yours. Family? perhaps, as a base unit.

    There doesn’t seem to be another universal at the moment.


  3. tobeme Says:

    Interesting take on sports being a binding force in society.

    Sports are huge, mostly among men. I am in a way the odd one out because I do not follow sports.

    I offer you that “music” is one of the other binding forces of society.

  4. ggwfung Says:

    tobeme, yes, music is huge. It’s everywhere, and it comes in all shapes and sizes.

    But in a way sport concentrates the group attention, whereas music is highly individual; that is the only qualifier I would add.

    Cheers for the comment,


  5. rlao Says:

    how about TV, movies and celebrities? Women espcially like to talk about them. With guys, I start off with sports and maybe politics, with gals, entertainment. For example, I won’t touch religion because of my radical views but some do.

  6. rlao Says:

    oh I forgot, here in silicon valley, it is fashionable to talk about high-tech among guys.

  7. seekingfor Says:

    Sports play an important role in society.

    I do prefer colleges sports over professional. I think NCAA sports better demonstrate the team spirit and sense of a love for the game.

  8. Naughty Heather Says:

    I am a wayyyy on the fringe sports fan – I like to know who won, and that’s about it. But I think you have hit the nail on the head with this one!

    Great job!

  9. Brandon Says:

    I agree, but I think there are people who take sports way too seriously. Ever been to one of those Pee Wee hockey league games and watched parents scrapping in the stands because of some call that was made? Or how about fan riots at soccer games? For some people, it’s way more than just a game…

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