I can’t quite put a finger to it, but there’s just something that I don’t quite enjoy about American sports; I could never identify with the supposed excitement of baseball, basketball, ice-hockey or American Football. (Okay, maybe American Football’s an exception because I’ve really enjoyed The Blind Side or Remember The Titans.) In a nutshell, I cannot and do not appreciate these sports. On the other hand, I find football, and to a lesser extent, rugby, immensely more absorbing. I’ll classify these as European sports.
I’m inclined to think that American sports mimic fantasy while European sports mimic reality. Allow me to elucidate.
In a world of fantasy, there’s always something happening at every minute – be it a high and constantly scoring game like basketball, the player-bashing and violence of ice-hockey, the hope of catching a baseball that’s hit out of the playing arena, or the pre-game, half-time and post-game entertainment elements of the Super Bowl.
Whereas in the reality of European sports, spectators patiently (and optimistically) watch and wait for long periods of time in the game without any action. Then in a moment of sheer brilliance, our breaths are stolen by a mesmerising dribble, a defence-splitting pass, a thunderbolt shot, a trajectory-impossible free kick, a audaciously converted penalty or an incredible gravity-defying save. Our lives in the real world are not dissimilar – long periods of mundane monotony interrupted by a few spectacular and memorable events.
European sports contain the kind of moments that commentators often describe as “edge of your seat”. However, in American sports, there are so many edge-of-your-seat moments that you watch the entire game melted your couch, and head for a water and toilet break without hesitation, because you know that there’s gonna be another specular moment later. When everything is exciting, nothing is anymore.
The funny thing is, regardless of fantasy or reality, we all tune in to our favourite game of basketball or football on TV to be plugged into a world of fantasy (or should I say, non-reality), where deadlines and expectations disappear for that couple of hours.
Perhaps that’s the reason why football-junkies become addicted to Football Manager or Winning Eleven annually (when new versions are released), nullifying the trophy-less frustrations and building that dream team that real-life supported football clubs cannot seem to deliver. And perhaps that’s why we enjoy planning a well-deserved holiday for ourselves – to get away from all the real-life predicaments we face in the office and at home.
Well, we can’t escape reality and go on a holiday all the time, but we certainly can enter into our worlds of fantasy with our weekly dosages of watching our favourite teams play on our larger-than-life LCD TVs. Maybe that’s why we experience euphoria each time our team scores. Keep watching, keep screaming, keep thinking that they can actually hear you.