TED Conversations

Louis Ades

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Why did humans invent sports and why do so many people love watching and playing competitive sports games?

I'm not asking why certain individuals are attracted to sports. Obviously people find it exciting, thrilling, entertaining etc. My question is why do people find it to be so exhilarating?? Why is it exciting? Why is it entertaining? Why do athletes enjoy sports so much? Is it simply the sublimation of our evolutionary drives in a way that is accepted by society? What are the psychological, historical, scientific, etc. reasons for us creating and participating in competitive sports?

Also, how do you think we can use the popularity of sports to make the world a better place?


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  • Nov 26 2012: Sports is for the most part, a by product of our evolutionary path. Back when we were prey, many of the things such as speed and strength were hardwired to impress others of the society. It allowed for the best of the best to carry on their genes, as the ones desired by people were those that could survive due to their traits. In this modern day however, there is no real way for the average person to enjoy such physical show offs, so they watch sports. Also, studies have shown that men actually get more of a 'boost' out of winning or competing as a team, which shows why team sports such as baseball or football are so popular.
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      Nov 27 2012: "...were hardwired to impress others of the society" because our genes are themselves hardwired into thinking "ooh, I want to breed with the strongest gene poo, and the only way I can do that is to impress". Then, what if the need to "impress" and be rewarded by status/mating/etc was actuallya genetic Catch 22 where the need for reward overcame the fear of death, so that the human had enough "courage" to actually go out and hunt/survive?

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