A common, yet erroneous concept is that the human brain is the result of billions of years of evolution. Our primitive or reptilian part of the brain is that old, but our brain’s extra large neocortex, the thing that separates us from other mammals, came about only a couple million years ago, a mere drop in the evolutionary bucket. The neocortex has not had much time to develop, and so our primitive brain plays a significant role in our lives.
Our basic flight or fight mentality is manifested in sports. sport-vitalife.nl/ We can relate, on some deeper and unconscious level, with the guy running with the football towards the end zone and being chased by a pack of angry men. We can understand what it feels like to check another player in hockey and slam him into the boards. Or we can sympathize with the NASCAR driver who gets passed by a competitor, but throws it into a higher gear and chases after him.
Our primitive desire for dominance is represented in sports. When our team wins, we experience a sort of dominance over the opposing team and their fans.
Our predatory nature is lit up when we see a linebacker following a running back through a mass of football players, waiting for the perfect moment to strike his prey with a tackle. Watching someone chase the man with the ball in basketball, soccer, or baseball affects us in similar ways.
Our tribal instincts are fulfilled by sports. We all want to belong to something; it’s a basic human need since we are such social animals. We identify with a team like our ancestors would identify with their tribe. This is especially true for the Western world’s modern man, where community has taken a back seat to independence.
Our primitive warring nature is satisfied by sports. There seems to be an innate desire for war, even in so-called ‘modern’ man. Indeed, look at the world today and how many current wars are going on, and you’ll see how far we are to real peace. Pathetically, that last statement holds true for almost any time in history, regardless of when you’re reading this. Again, this goes back to the fact that we are ruled more by our ‘primitive’, survival-driven, fight or flight brain than our reasonable and intelligent ‘modern’ brain.
Every sports game is like a tiny war between tribes, with an end and a declared victor. But there’s one important distinction; unlike war, no one has to die in sports.
One of the reasons going to a game is more exciting than watching it on TV is that there is a kind of energy created when so many people get together and root for one cause. You might even liken it to a mob mentality. We don’t have to look farther than our own stadiums where pandemonium has broken out in protest to a call or in celebration of a win. Sports strongly appeals to the gaming and struggle instincts of humans.
And since our modern lives no longer contain any real physical danger and all our basic needs are immediately taken care of, we now have a void that needs to be filled somehow, our primitive brain expects it. Sports fit the bill. It gives us the illusion of reality where there are no consequences. It gives us the illusion of battle, war, victory and defeat, without the consequences. And it gives us the illusion of being a child again, even if it’s all temporary.