The Dark Side of Sports

Having fun is one of the basic principles held in sports in today’s society. Every Sunday, I head down to the local sand volleyball court and play on my intramural team. Win or lose, I can say I had fun each and every game. I signed up not because I have a burning passion to win the IM league, but because I want to relive my high school volleyball glory days. I love the sport and love playing it. In his article “Take Time for Paradise,” Giamatti suggested that sport from the perspective of a player OR a spectator always brings a sense happiness and enjoyment to them. There are countless examples in which this can be proven true, but I have decided to question and challenge his conclusion.

Diehard fans of professional and collegiate sports teams take copious amounts of pride in their team’s success. As a Washington Redskins fan, having grown up in a suburb of New York City filled with Giants fans (their arch rival), I had it rough. When the “G-Men” won two Super Bowls in the span of 4 years, I did not hear the end of how good the Giants were and how superior they were to the Redskins. However, the Redskins weren’t actually thaaaaaat bad. They could compete. They had success earlier on in history, which I could take a little bit of pride in.

There are teams in all of sports who have been consistently terrible for a long stretch of years. An example of one of these teams (I’ll stay in the NFL for now) is the Jacksonville Jaguars. This franchise was created in 1995 and had moderate success in its first 4 seasons. Since then, they have made the playoffs just twice and the past three seasons they have been absolutely embarrassing. Their fan base has been extremely discouraged about how terrible their team is, especially being that they are the only professional sports team in Jacksonville. These reactions say it all:


Talk about deflated…

A society has a certain attachment to its local sports team(s). That can be seen right here at the University of Michigan. Michigan Football has gotten off to the worst start of its storied history with a 2-3 record. Losing is not something Michigan Football and its fans are used to. The student section voiced their opinion on the matter mid-game by chanting “Fire Hoke” repeatedly. The mood around campus was angered and dispirited after the loss. This shows just how much influence the performance of sports teams have on those who follow them. Giamatti said that sports are tools to instill happiness, pleasure, and a temporary form of euphoria. I believe that sports can also bring about sadness, anger, and depression. A fan base’s emotions peak with when the team performs well, and plummet when the team doesn’t. Also, if a player makes a costly mistake or blows the game for his or her team, he or she will likely feel extremely guilty and ashamed. This could be the case at any level of sports. However if a professional or collegiate player makes a costly mistake which leads to a loss, he or she not only feels that they let the team down, but also, the entire fan base. Athletics can definitely provide an individual player or spectator with delight and joy, but they can also impart misery and hardship.

3 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Sports

  1. Pingback: Free Solo Climbing Has It All | THE BIG HOUSE OF IDEAS

  2. You make a very strong point in this piece. Sports have pervaded our society in such a way that they have gone well beyond Giamatti’s initial denotation of them as things which bring joy into our lives. They dominate our lives. Between the six sports teams I follow closely and call myself a fan of, I never have a minute of downtime! Sure, it brings me joy when they win. It also tremendously worsens my mood when they do poorly. There are days in which sports does in fact bring joy to my life, but there are also plenty of days when I wish I just didn’t give a hoot. Overall, do they bring me more joy or sadness? The answer really is not clear… And yet, I know sports have been in my life long enough that I won’t be forgetting about them anytime soon.


    • Your argument in this blog is very valid. Sports are a roller coaster as teams can hit highs like winning the Super Bowl, but then hit lows like not even making the playoffs the following year. Giamatti does not take all of this into consideration when he wrote his piece, “Take Time for Paradise”. To answer the question of whether sport bring more joy or sadness, I believe the answer is joy because if it was the other way around then people would not keep coming back to the teams they support. Even during the lowest of lows, sports is great in that there is always hope that a team or player can break through the threshold and emerge a champion.


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