Why Is The World Fixated On Sports?
On Sunday, February 3, one billion people will sit down in living rooms all over the world to watch Super Bowl XLVII (47). About 20% of these viewers will only be there to watch the commercials or half time show. Another 10% will watch just because they can’t think of a good excuse to leave. About 40% are there because someone else bought the food and beer. The rest have passed out before the game even starts. So what is this fixation the world has on sports? Why do people spend outrageous sums of money for tickets to sporting events all over the world?
Most Popular Sport in the World
What’s the most popular sport in the world? Baseball, Football, NASCAR, Basketball, Tennis? Not even close. Soccer is by far the most popular sport by far. And if you’ve spent any time at all watching the news you’ve seen European Soccer riots. Referees have to be escorted, not just from the stadium, but also to safe houses after home team losses.
A look at social media paints a very clear picture of soccer’s popularity. Eight of the top ten most liked teams on Facebook are soccer teams. Only the LA Lakers (#4) and Chicago Bulls (#10) are able to crack the top ten. American athletes fair a little better when it comes to most popular players on Facebook. The top three are soccer players follow by Michael Jordon (#4) who has been retired for several years. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and LeBron James are numbers six and seven respectively.
Of the most followed teams on Twitter, American teams do better. Four out of the top ten are all basketball teams. LA Lakers (#3), Orlando Magic (#8), Miami Heat (#9), and Boston Celtics (#10). Of the most followed star athletes only two American’s can compete with the eight soccer stars – LeBron James (#3) and Shaquille O’Neal (#4). You have to go all the way down to #17 to find the most liked football team, New York Jets (#17). So the two teams scheduled to face off in this years Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49’s and Baltimore Ravens, have some public relation challenges.
I can remember becoming a die-hard baseball fan about the age of five or six when my Dad took me to a St. Louis Cardinal game. Stan Musial, who passed away this week, was one of my boyhood heroes. Sports seem to have some kind of addiction to certain personalities. Some collect every possible piece of memorabilia of their favorites. They paint their faces, bodies, wear all sorts of outlandish costumes, and create signs for that rare chance that they might show up on TV during the game. Sports clothing with team logos are off the chart profit centers for the most popular teams. Players receive salaries we can’t even comprehend to play children’s games. And we literally live and die on the outcome of each contest.
Some Final Thoughts
There is no question that TV has been the savior of many sports that might have fallen by the wayside. But close-up’s of our gridiron gladiators, instant replay, accentuate the amazing talent on display on any given day. We root for the underdog in sports as we do in real life. Sports bring us a little bit of escapism from our often-humdrum lives. For a couple of hours we can shut out the world and be kids again.