You Don't Have to Play to Watch

It’s something that I hear all the time from people who aren’t exactly fans. I get told all the time, “Why are you so into hockey? You don’t even play. You get all emotional over the Canucks, and you’ve never even laced up the skates to hit the ice for a game. Why do you watch? Why do you care?”

Newsflash: You don’t have to play the sport to enjoy watching it.

Absolutely, it’s true that I have never played a game of ice hockey in my life. I’ve played a little bit of floor hockey in my younger days, but the only real hockey in my life these days comes from the Vancouver Canucks and the rest of the NHL. And I’m okay with that.

If we were to follow the logic of the hypothetical naysayer above, I wouldn’t really be able to enjoy most of the entertainment that I find online, on television, or anywhere else. I don’t play the guitar, so I shouldn’t listen to rock music. I don’t bake, so I shouldn’t watch Cake Boss. I’m not involved in corporate America, so why should I follow who Donald Trump fires each week?

You don’t have to be able to do what you see in order to enjoy what you see. I throw my hat in with the Canucks the same way I threw my hat in with Team Canada during the Winter Olympic Games. Sports allow us to live vicariously through the athletes, participating in a competition and riding those same kinds of emotions without, well, actually participating in the competition.

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

It’s the same kind of experience you get with a particularly profound movie or a particularly thrilling TV series. You live vicariously through these characters, fictional or otherwise, and you get to ride that emotional wave along with them.

Professional sports are especially exciting when you have an allegiance to a certain team. That said, there’s no “local” NFL team in Vancouver, but I’m just as excited about the Super Bowl each year as I am about the Stanley Cup. Will I ever be able to do with Tom Brady or Daniel Sedin are able to do in their respective sports? Probably not… but I can watch them do it and revel in the competitive spirit.

I much prefer the “reality TV” of hockey and football over the “reality TV” of Snooki and Kate Gosselin.

Playing, But Not Watching

Interestingly enough, the reverse is also true: You don’t have to follow a professional league in order to play that sport either. I started playing tennis well before I expressed any interest in watching it on TV. I started curling in high school before I feigned any interest in watching it. In all honesty, I don’t watch curling at all (aside from the Olympic medal runs).

Are you a sports fan? Why or why not? What is (or isn’t) the appeal to you?