05.27.13

Why I watch sports

Posted in sports at 6:04 pm by wingerz

It’s been a tough year to be a Laker fan, though I’d argue that the team as constructed, with injuries, did about as well as anyone could have hoped. By the time Game 4 against the Spurs rolled around and we were starting Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, it felt like a fitting ending to the season. Just wish Kobe had been out there, since there’s always a little bit of hope when he’s on the court.

But even during this trying season, I’ve still tried to carve time out of my schedule to watch a few quarters here and there and have been following the playoffs closely. Some of my work buddies see watching sports as a waste of time and really want to have nothing to do with them, but it’s still something that I really enjoy. Here are some of the reasons (mostly with examples from the past few months – obviously the examples get more compelling as you look across the past few decades).

The drama. Once in a while, something really unlikely happens, and it’s amazing. Or it’s heartbreaking. Either way, seeing something unfold live is breathtaking, and you immediately text/IM/call your friends who are also following along.

The meaning of winning. The sporting world is full of reminders that, at the end of the day, it comes down to whether you’ve won or not – it’s not about how much fun you’re having or your individual performance or anything else (though those can be nice to have). And oftentimes winning comes down to execution, which boils down to dedication, which boils down to character. Everyone playing at this level is insanely talented, but it can still be pretty easy to tell who wants to win the most. One note on Kobe – personal issues aside, his combination of talent and drive is incredible, and by playing on the US Olympic team and showing those guys what it really means to care, I think it’s made all of the top NBA players better.

The team. A team that plays well together is a work of art, a tribute to the players, coach, and management of the team. I love seeing how personalities mesh and different approaches players and coaches take to get the most out of each other. It’s also interesting to see whether coaches can take advantage of their talent or try to shoehorn players into the wrong system. Love seeing different leadership styles in players and coaches.

The market for talent. Everyone knows what everyone else makes, and that can be awkward. Drafts are especially fascinating because there’s so little information to go on (1 year of college in the NBA), interesting to see what general managers and scouts pick up on. So, in trying to put together a team that plays well together, here’s what needs to be considered: huge discrepancy in salaries, salary cap, having a fixed number of openings on the team, competition from every other team. Something always has to give.

Second-guessing everywhere, every time. The Internet is watching, all the time – in-game decisions, team moves, strategies, everything.