Sports aren’t important. Relative to family, friends, one’s community, religion, pets, and professional life, the performance of one’s sports teams really ought not to have a meaningful impact on one’s life. It’s just a bunch of people moving an object from one place to another using their hands, feet, or sticks against a bunch of other people trying to steal the object for themselves. It’s an absurdity that it garners any attention at all.
And yet, sports, in a lot of ways, are everything. They are a magnet that binds people of a certain affinity together while repelling groups with different value systems. They allow for the (mostly) healthy release of tribal energies, enable the resolution of regional rivalries that historically would have been solved with lots of fires and cannibalism, and create common experiences among people with widely disparate professions, faiths, and interests.
We dedicate meaningful percentages of our lives to our teams at games, watching them on TV, following recruiting, drafts, and trades/transfers. We vent our spleens on message boards, social media, at bars and tailgates, and in angry emails to GMs/athletic directors. They are deeply emotional. We share and treasure the moments of transcendence, when our teams do something we always wanted them to do - for years, every time we get together. And we commiserate with one another after particularly bad things, collectively sharing the trauma, comforted that we don’t have to experience that despair alone.