Home > The Global Impact of Sports- by Armon Gilliam PUM Contributor

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The Global Impact of Sports- by Armon Gilliam PUM Contributor


Recently I was sitting in my den watching ESPN. As I observed highlights and reports from various sporting events like: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Poconos, the French Open, N.B.A. Finals, the death of John Wooden the legendary coach of UCLA, M.B.L. game results, N.H.L. finals, FIFA World Cup in South Africa, to name a few, I began to think about the global impact that sports has had on the world. In this article I will offer an explanation for what I believe drives billions of people around the world to spend an irrational amount of time watching, playing, reading about or training for sports. Think about this amazing fact; there are literally billions of hours and billions of dollars willfully sacrificed on the altar of sports by the world’s population. And this continual sacrifice to the gods of sports have been going on from ancient times to the present. There must be an underestimated yet very powerful and highly seductive force compelling the masses to overindulgence in sports. To be sure, a large portion of the world's population has been and still are hooked by an insatiable appetite for sports which begs the question; has sports made a sport of us?

The evolution of sports took a significant step forward with the Greek Olympic Games that commenced in 776 B.C. in  Olympia, Greece. The Olympiads were showcased in well-designed stadiums and theaters in an organized format every four years and the athletes were regarded as heroic figures in Greek culture. In Roman in 264 BC sports took another step forward.  During this era, gladiators fiercely competed for their lives in ornate amphitheaters which were similar to modern day stadiums. Gladiators would fight each other, wild animals and/or condemned criminals often times to the death as bloodthirsty spectators became electrified by savage and bloody fights. As time marched forward, these two precursors of modern day sporting events were refined and made more civilized. Today there are a variety of entertaining sporting events that are showcased in stadiums, gymnasiums and arenas around the world which consistently draw tens of thousands of spectators.
The enormous amount of sporting events taking place around the world and the coverage they receive clearly speaks to the fascination and love affair that people have with sports. Then consider that the same strong public appetite for sports has been present in many cultures around the world for centuries. Therefore, it is fair to say that the global impact of sports on humanity, in terms of its breathe, prominence and financial magnitude, is un rivaled in it scope and it is a lot more significant than many suspect. Without question, there is no other entity that has captivated the attention of the worlds population like sports. Apparently, sport have a magical ability to cast a powerful spell which has ensnared billions of people for centuries and caused the masses to crave and then indulged themselves on the many delectable aspects of sports.
"An activity involving physical exertion and skill that are governed by a set or rules or customs or and often undertaken competitively." This is the definition of sport offered by the American Heritage Dictionary. As I researched a couple of definitions of sports, I concluded that they all were woefully inadequate. Admittedly, the above definition and others captures the workings of a sport. However, it fails to take into account the emotionally arousing nature of sports which is a key component that cannot be ignored. If I were asked to formulate a definition of sports I would say; sports are an intense battle of wills that causes athletes to become emotionally charged as they strategically, skillfully and passionately pursue victory which in turn emotionally arouses sports enthusiast. I could elaborate on my definition and talk about the various aspects of sports like: the strategies, mentalities of athletes, the training that prepares the athletes for competitions and team camaraderie to name a few. However, the point I am making is that sports are an emotionally fueled endeavor and this factor cannot be teased out of the equation of sports.  
Frequently, sports unleash unbridled emotions in our beings, as a fan or athlete, which energizes our bodies and personalities. As a result, people who otherwise are calm and rational, get stirred up to the point of mustering up super human athletic efforts and/or acting out many irrational behaviors that are squarely fueled by the emotional arousing nature of sports. Sports have the unique power emotionally arouse fans or athletes to the point of causing many to go overboard and often times to lose their sensibilities. 
I have witnessed some ridiculous, strange and irrational behaviors acted out by people that get caught up in the euphoria surrounding sporting events. Here are a couple of examples: 1. I have witnessed Green bay Packer fans take off their coats and shirts in sub-zero weather to bare their bulging beer bellies that were painted with some Packer related representation. 2. I have witnessed people becoming irate over a bad call in a hard-fought NBA game as if they were intimately defending a close relative in a serious manner. 3. I have seen international television reports of World Cup Soccer matches in which hundreds of thousands of soccer fans will engage in boisterous cheering for their team for hours, rioting by "soccer hooligans" in the streets before and after matches, thousands of people charging the field in the middle of a game, mob violence, throwing chairs, physically attacking the opposing team’s fans, and stampedes by crowds that cause injuries or loss of life. I am sure you can think of examples as well. 
The love affair that mankind has formed with sports is very real and can be easily witnessed by and through the repetitive and intimate interactions that the masses have with their sport(s) of preference. Without questions, sports have strong entertainment value, they are emotionally arousing, captivating, fun, rewarding, stimulating and addictive. These qualities are some of the factors that caused the masses to first behold a sport and then become captivated by its alluring and resident beauty. 
The global impact that sports have had on humanity is wide spread and is brought out by the subtle ways in which sports places an iron clad grip on those that fall prey to its beauty.  So by all mean as a fan or athlete enjoy the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Please remember, however, you are just one of billions of people around the world and throughout the centuries that was captivated by the beauty of sports and compelled to spend countless hours adoring its many comely aspects.  

Armon Gilliam (born May 28, 1964, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania) nicknamed "The Hammer", is an American professional basketball player that played 13 years in the NBA (1987-2000). He also played one season (2005-06) for the Pittsburgh Xplosion of the American Basketball Association.

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