Sport Allergies Syndrome

Sport fans often act like a secular religious group.  To me, fervent sport fans seem to share some of the blinders as religious fundamentalists.  But I have disliked sports since very young — it is just not part of my temperament.  And I realize now that *I* am the weird one, not everyone else.  For the vast majority of humanity is religious about sports.

In the USA, which worships Football and Hockey (with a few Baseball fans lingering), I have been mocked and treated like an apostate for not know team names, sport rules and what season we are in.  In Pakistan I was considered weird for not liking cricket, in Japan I was odd for not following Sumo. Sports-ianty is everywhere.

So over the years I have come to realize that Sport Fans aren’t odd.  Instead, I have come to the humble realization that I am a the freak.  The vast majority of men I know (and many women) love watching and cheering for their sport teams. I use to think they were weird but now I have come to suspect that I am the strange one.  After all, I am the minority.

I have often wondered, “Why don’t I like sports”.   As a kid I actually tried to like sports so I could talk with all the other guys.  I figured I could grow to like sports if I made the game more rich by memorizing the teams and players’ statistics but this did not help — I still hated watching and talking about sports.  I have never succeeded in even slightly in enjoying spectator sports.  But then I have never succeed in similar ventures with Opera, Ballet, Fishing, Golf or Bowling.  It seems to be a matter of temperament.

Sports certainly offer their fans a huge feeling of belonging — a tribal security. I have lots of friends and I love to bond just as much as the next guy — I just don’t like to do it by watching and talking about sports.  I don’t have a need for imaginary bonds.  Mind you, I do enjoy participating in several sports, but they all happen to be individual sports: kayaking, swimming, martial arts, tennis ….

So I recently had an epiphany:  I have a disease. I have a sports allergy.  So using the syndrome approach used to describe very hard to understand conditions, I have created these criterion to help you see if you share my disease. Please tell us in the comments below:

Sport Allergies Syndrome (S.A.S.)

Someone suffers from S.A.S if they fulfill at least 4 of the following 6 criteria:

  • Have a negative attitude toward Sports
    • Either you are actually critical of the game, or mildly dislike it or just plain apathetic.
    • Negative potential: Quick to be critical
  • Has competing hobbies:  Has significantly enticing hobbies that they’d rather do that sit around for hours watching Sports on TV each week.
  • Lacks fear of Sports ridicule:  Don’t need approval of others and ridicule rolls right off you.
    • Negative potentialMay be a bit careless with the feeling of others.
  • Are Self-Content:  Does not feel a satisfying bonding by just imagining belong to a group of cheering fans.  You don’t mind playing alone.
    • Negative potential: Slow to bond with big groups.
  • Are a Natural Rebel:  If told what they should do, they think of ways to avoid it.
    • These are the rebel types — they probably shrug off a lot more that society tells them is normal.
    • Negative potential:  Can be a “poor team player”.
  • Are Crowd Averse:  or hates the crowd mentality

So, do the criteria work?  Did they capture you other Sports Allergists? Can you think of other criteria?  Help me tighten up the definition !

I like thinking of fuzzy things like this in a syndrome sort of way.  I analyze religion in a similar sort of way in this post.  I have actually suspected that some of these criteria are shared by Atheists and thus suspected that a disproportionate number of Atheists also suffer from Sport Allergies.  But alas, many Atheists continue supporting this nasty form of mercenary tribalism even after they have shed the chains of other forms of superstitious thinking !  🙂


Filed under Humor, Philosophy & Religion

22 responses to “Sport Allergies Syndrome

  1. I feel a sneeze coming on, I believe I have a sports allergy. I like kayaking, hiking, swimming, and racquetball, but I hate just about every major sport. I did watch the soccer world cup one year and was mesmerized by the skill of the players, but didn’t get hooked.

  2. Al

    “I use to think they were weird but now I have come to suspect that I am the strange one. After all, I am the minority.”

    Don’t assume that the majority is necessarily right, or that the minority is wrong.

    And I share your lack of addiction to sports.

  3. @ Al
    Don’t worry, I never assume the majority is correct — it was said tongue in cheek. But I was looking for personality causal factors.

    @ Mike & Al
    So, how many of my criteria were correct for you. Do you think my syndrome was accurate in describing you? That was the point of my post.

  4. Al

    Probably 4 of them, in varying degrees. I particularly like #5 (but decided to answer you anyway).

  5. I think much depends on what you did as a child. I imagine many played the sports that they watch. I easily answer 3 of your list and a little of the other 3. But I love watching my Vikings play. Takes me back to my early years when they had no dome and you could see them steaming in the snow. True warriors in a glorious battle. Awesome. 🙂

  6. “* Negative attitude toward Sports – Either you are actually critical of the game, or mildly dislike it or just plain apathy.”

    I run the gamut on these. My biggest criticism of sports is how damn long the pro games take with all the stopping and starting and advertising.

    * No Competing Hobbies: Nothing better to do (no real hobbies) during sport games

    I always have something better to do. I have so many hobbies that many get neglected. I love to compose music, but haven’t seriously in years, for example.

    * No Fear of Ridicule: Don’t need approval of others and ridicule rolls right off you.

    Ridicule away!

    * Self-Content: No strong need to bond with others during such an activity. You don’t mind playing alone.

    Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster I love my solitude! I love being with others too, but I very rarely feel a need to be with others.

    * Natural Rebel: If you tell them they should do something, they think of ways to avoid it. – These are the rebel types — they probably shrug off a lot more that society tells them is normal. They are not the sort who drink the kool aid.

    Yep, that’s pretty much me. Tell me to do something and I will examine the merits of it, except at work where I have little choice sometimes.

    * Hate Crowds: or hates the crowd mentality


    Since I have oodles of hobbies I score 5 out of 6.

  7. @ Al laughing at your last sentence!

    @ Mike You confirmed my theory — I am excited. You also help me realize I stated one of the conditions backwards. It should say, “Has competing hobbies” the TV watcher would have no real competing hobby. Thanks I will fix it. So now you have 6/6. Congratulations, you have a full-blown syndrome and described perfectly.

    @ TITforTAT Yeah, my theory tries to predict without childhood experiences. I played many sports in my childhood. But you did help me realize that I should require 4/6 criteria to capture you in the right camp. So I am tweeking the theory — thanks.

  8. Yay! I always wanted my own full-blown syndrome! 😉

  9. I fit the secular religious group pattern on this one, with little to no sports allergies. In the past I really fell for the tribalism of watching pro football. Now I recognize it for the entertainment and often farce that it is, but still love watching. The attachment grew for years as an adult, though has started to wane the past 2-3 years.

    I never played real football in my life but like to watch that more than anything I played. What I really like about team sports is when everyone is working together like one organism, anticipating and trusting each others moves to be an effective unit. Individual sports are great fun and even “spiritual” to me, but that is something much different than being a sports fan.

    T4T: Remember the Culpepper fumble at the goal line in the playoffs a few years ago vs the Eagles? Yeah, I thought so. :^)

  10. Boz

    “Mind you, I do enjoy participating in several sports, but they all happen to be individual sports: kayaking, swimming, martial arts, tennis.”

    You play tennis by yourself?

  11. @ ATTR
    Sooooooooo ? Do you fit the model?
    How many of the criteria fit you? Is it predictive?
    That is the point of the post.
    I would guess that you are not a “natural” rebel, you do not hate crowds, and you fear ridicule a little more than other posters here (or put nicely, you like to be liked more than the rest of us cantankerous nitpickers). So you probably have only 3/6 conditions and thus still are predictable.
    Smile. But go ahead, prove me wrong.

    @ Boz
    — cute little nitpicker, aren’t you ! 😉
    Let’s see, sport taxonomies:
    1) team sports
    2) non-team sports
    a) 1 on 1 sports (tennis, martial arts)
    b) 1 on many sports (marathons)
    c) just you against nature (kayaking, skiing)
    When I said “individual” , I should have said, “non-team”. Thank you kindly for your nitpicking !

    Now, how about contributing. Do you fit the predictive model in any way? Come on, that is the point of the post.

  12. ATTR

    Christ, Im still in mourning over the missed field goal by Anderson in ’98. Dont get me started on Culpepper. 😉

  13. Negative attitude toward Sports

    Competing Hobbies
    Yes, but watching sports at times wins out

    No Fear of Ridicule
    Crave approval of others to a fault (yes, you were right)

    Not very self-content generally

    Natural Rebel
    Moderate rebel

    Hate Crowds
    I do not like crowds at all

    So that scores me a 2 and validates your criteria I think. But you missed on two of your guesses about me, unless I am incorrectly assessing myself (quite possible). :^)

  14. If I may throw in a minor criticism of the criteria (and, IMHO, it also applies to atheist’s reasoning per their atheism):

    The criteria are presented in somewhat “heroic” terms. In other words, those with sports allergy syndrome are portrayed as a brave, independent, superior, etc. There is no mention of the negative effects the sports-allergic person suffers. For example, playing team sports (or being in a musical group or military unit) creates a very meaningful, and long-lasting bond built on mutual trust. Also, in team/group environments, you see how your efforts mix with the actions of the group to create a synergy that can be quite a powerful experience.

    So I think you should try to see the “symptoms” from a wider perspective, which might involve having a better (i.e. less condescending) understanding of those who do not suffer from the allergy.

  15. @ Laughing Boy:
    That is superb — right on target. I will work on them later and modify. Thank you. I was trying to capture some of that by calling it disease in the first place and admitting it was abnormal, but then my subjective preference for myself poked its ugly head back out ! Thanks — well put !

  16. Laughing Boy — if you are following this thread, how do you like the changes?

  17. Sabio

    I was thinking about these symptoms. The potential problem is that they may be “sport” specific, but not “sports” specific. I imagine I would have all of them in relation to Cricket. 🙂

  18. That sounds like the “I am an atheist too because I disbelieve in every god but one.” statement.

    But I am really writing for A-Sportists, those who don’t watch any sports in the fan capacity. The Sportist only has to have one sport they follow enthusiastically just like the Theist only needs one god they believe in.

    Does that make sense? Keep thinking, I glad it caught your mind.

  19. Those are very good additions. Let me add one further comment (and drive this lighthearted post completely off the rails). The new “negative potentials” retain a certain “me” focus, which may be entirely appropriate for a set of symptoms, but something’s missing.

    For example, you list one negative as being “quick to be critical”. A person could say, “Yup, that’s me alright”, and go on quite satisfied with themselves and give no thought to what benefit is to be had by not being quick to be critical. Knowing what “healthy” is is fundamental to understanding what disease is. In this case, one possible result of my being quick to be critical could be that I miss out on things I would actually enjoy. I might discover new and unexpected aspects of myself, other people, and the world around me. (Flashback to the dinner table when mom said, “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?)

  20. A true spectator sports fan loves the drama of the game even more than his team.
    I can understand not seeing the drama. One person says what is so dramatic about watching 22 men move back and forth over the same one hundred yards for 2 or 3 hours.
    The drama in the twists and turns of fate. I like football the most. This causes me some guilt because football is the most violent. In any pro game it is likely that at least one player will suffer an injury severe enough to hobble him for a month. In a season there will be quite a few injuries even worse than that. It might not be as barbaric as the Roman Colusium. But I still have some ethical qualms about encourging men to do this do each other purely for ENTERTAINMENT.
    I also am preturbed by player salaries and the profits of the owners of all pro spectator sports. The whole system is a good example of win at any cost run amok. This deficiency could be solved by having something equivilant to a GS system for each sport. Each starting quarterback (or pitcher or goalie) earns for example 1 million a year. Each victory could have a bonus payment that would be the same no matter what team you played on.
    Despite these ethical misgivings I learn to live with my guilt and enjoy the games. I do not much care for baseball on TV. I like watching the the local softball games that are played by local residents. A MLB game at the stadim is a fun day too. I perfer HS basketball because it is to easy for the pro players to make a basket.
    Hockey is good on TV or live. I especially get a thrill watching Russia kick America’s ass.

  21. Max

    Hi Sabio,

    Great topic. I envy you. I’m the opposite of a sports allergist, feeling a compulsive need to bond with sports teams throughout the year. I am also an atheist currently involved in a rich dharma practice. In all seasons but summer my affliction is mild, but when baseball season rolls around I descend into utter madness. The hardest part of this is that my chosen team, the one that got its hooks into me as a child, is simply terrible and has been for almost twenty years. Each year I feel like a lemming being mindlessly driven over the cliff. My meditation practice has raised my awareness of the affliction, but I still feel powerless to change it. Only an extreme bout of losing seems to bring me to the realization that it’s just too painful to follow the team’s (mis)fortunes.

    OTOH, when they get on that rare little winning streak, I’m comparatively in heaven. I guess this is the junkie’s fix that keeps me hooked. The internet is no help at all. I can bond with the similarly afflicted all the way across the country at a moment’s notice, and I often do.


  22. @ Max : That was funny ! Thanx for the ‘confessions’ ! Ah the joy of being human.

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