A friend of mine (whose not so much the sports fan) once asked me in disgust how so much money can be splurged into the game, while people go hungry in poverty striken parts of the world. I see his reasoning, being an economist by profession, he couldn’t understand how and where teams got such large sums of money to spend on transfers and such, especially during the recession. I myself, being not too clued up on the financial happenings around the world, couldn’t really defend the actions of the big guns in the footballing world.
But nonetheless, I returned home and pondered. Is humanity getting it all wrong? Should our earnings be put toward better causes? Well the answer to that is probably yes, but after deep thought, I realised in order to do full justice to every football fan (including myself), one needs to dig deep into why we as humans watch sport, and football in particular, in the first place?
I have come to realise that humans are innately “feel good” beings. Some may watch the beautiful game for national pride (if it’s played on an international level). Some may watch for betting reasons (if your moneys on the right team!) And some may watch the beautiful game purely for entertainment. Just like a good movie,every sport and every match has a story. Whether it’s from the beginning of a season or the beginning of a match you become so involved in the story, it takes you over. There are people you support or oppose – the good guys or the baddies. If you’re lucky, there’s action involved – that amazing goal Messi scored or that brilliant save Reina made. Humour, is a must, you will find it in our world in the form Cristiano Ronaldo’s theatrics, or any press conference held by Jose Mourinho. Theres always plenty of drama, any el Clasico match, or any match refereed by Howard Webb for that matter. There is romance (or shall we say “Bromance?”) The ending can be tragic if your team loose or fairytale like if they win. People get the same entertainment from watching sport as they do television, movies or even shopping. But humans are also born with a natural competitive instinct that ensures survival of the fittest. A thirst for victory. And sport is the most civilized way to quench that thirst for victory.
One must also consider the world of good sport can do for a county. Take the World Cup 2010 for instance. Being from South Africa, I can assure you that despite the expenses put into staging the World Cup, the good it brought to us far outweighs the bad. Firstly, the unity it created among South Africans was beyond comprehension. I will never forget the moment of the opening ceremony, the amount of pride it instilled in all of us, that we were the first African nation to host this tournament, it’s a moment I will never forget. Besides boosting morale, it created jobs for thousands. Not only jobs, but it improved the infrastructure – airports were revamped, train lines were built, roads re-done. I could go on forever about how much the World Cup can benefit a nation, but I think you get the point.
Overall, I feel that people are going to put their hard earned cash in what makes them happy. Sport in any form, is entertaining and harmless, it brings people together from all walks of life. If people are going to put so much money into something, rather it is sport than alcohol, drugs or warfare, right?