Across countries, cultures, and sporting persuasions, this question is a guaranteed conversation starter. Everyone you ask knows, everyone cares, and everyone has something deeply insightful to contribute. That last ball six, that heart-breaking loss in the semis to the top seed, and that crucial referee’s call, it’s all up for discussion and is all grist for the conversational mill. People don’t just follow sports with passion, they invest themselves into the result. This is not a game -a loss is nothing short of a personal disaster. But what makes us be that way? Why do we care so much?
In many ways, the sports field is the last bastion of fairness. It’s the one place where hard work, talent, and merit usually triumphs. So many sports-related metaphors reflect as much -a place where everyone has an equal opportunity is a “level playing field”, someone working extra hard towards a goal is “putting in the hard yards”, a “hit below the belt” is unfair and will be called a foul, and many more. Our chosen team, our favourite player, our nation, and our region represent us out there. A win for them is a win for us -made all the sweeter by the realization that this win was, by definition, well-deserved. It came about because of “our” toil. “We” worked for it and now “we” have it. The world may rub its penchant for unfairness in our face every day in every other way, but this is one place where no one can stop us lifting the trophy. You could say that its Game, Set, and Match to our team. What about that game last night, huh!