I’ve never really been a sports fan. To be honest, I kind of despise sports. I’ve always felt some disdain for the ultra-competitive feeling that dominates it, the obsession of fans who spend their days just following their favorite athletes, obsessed with watching each and every single game, and most of all, I just don’t like the irrationality surrounding sports tribes.
However, I’ve recently started o think that I’ve been missing out on something. Just as I don’t understand the irrational behavior displayed by sports fans, at the same time I admire their devotion and commitment to a cause. The ability to connect with strangers for a common purpose is something that intrigues me.
These mixed emotions feel like a tension occurring between my rational and emotional sides. On the one hand, I feel that there’s something in sports that makes people lose control and it makes me be afraid of it (collective irrationality, as history has taught us, doesn’t always end well). On the other hand, I feel that there’s something in sports that is just magical, that brings people together (ironically, some of the greatest achievements in human history have also been the result of collective irrationality).
This last idea has been building up in me for a while. That’s why I decided to give sports series a try. It’s thanks to series like ‘The Last Dance’ and ‘Drive to Survive’ that I’ve started to take a different approach towards sports. One that focuses more on the potential of collectives to build awesome things rather than destroy.
My Thoughts on Sports
Watching ‘The Last Dance’ and ‘Drive to Survive’ made me realize a number of things. The most important being probably the fact that sports, like many other things, has both its good and bad things. Yes, there’s a lot of terrible stuff surrounding the sports world. There’s a lot of injustice, sexism, and corruption. Time and time again, I just keep reading in the news about the latest sports scandal, about how money was stolen or how politicians were bribed to make an event happen.
All of this sucks, but there isn’t really a reason to believe that there aren’t some good things in sports also. In particular, I’d like to point out something that has attracted my attention: the fact that sports can bring people together. The dynamics involved in bringing people together through sports do not even recognize local boundaries, and this is something that really amazes me. I’ve seen how people from my hometown in Colombia support foreign soccer teams as if they were their own, to the point where they buy super expensive merchandise just to feel they belong to something bigger than themselves. I don’t know if this is just brilliant or scary.
The Good Side of Sports: Team Building
There’s another more powerful dynamic going on than the business side of sports: the power to bring people together through teams. This has captivated my attention thanks to what I’ve seen in sports series recently. Let’s take a closer look.
The Last Dance
If you’ve never heard of it, The Last Dance is a series about the Chicago Bulls, more specifically, about Michael Jordan. Growing up, to me, Jordan used to be the guy who appeared in Space Jam. I wasn’t really a fan of basketball; at the time I wasn’t even a fan of watching anything on TV that had adults on it. Only by watching the series did I start to really get a grasp on his achievements and his importance in the sports world.
I know it sounds foolish, but to me, he was a guy who was good at moving a ball around. There was no appreciation on my behalf for his physical abilities, his discipline, and most of all, his mental toughness and drive. There’s a lot that one does not see when it comes to sports. So much that I would even dare say that the best things about sports occur outside the sport.
Watching The Last Dance allowed me to see the importance of how a team is built. After all, it is not just about bringing a bunch of people in to play a sport. Just like in real life, there’s a lot that needs to occur in order for strangers to communicate effectively and achieve amazing results. This sort of made me realize that there’s much more to sports than what I initially believed there was.
Drive to Survive
Something similar happened to me when watching Drive to Survive. After having watched The Last Dance, I thought it might be interesting to give sports series another try, and that’s how I ended up watching it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Formula 1 is a very particular kind of sport, one that combines mental toughness and technology in a way that, I would dare say, no other sport does. This requires not only that the pilot develops nerves of steel. It also demands a lot from his team. After all, it isn’t just the pilot who is competing, it is an entire group of people. There are some complex social dynamics going on in terms of achieving results and pushing the boundaries of technology.
Watching how Formula 1 teams address challenges and handle difficulties is, I have to say, probably even more interesting than the sport itself. As a result, this is something I’m still coming to terms with: is the actual management side of a sport more interesting than the sport itself? As of today, I’d probably say it is, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Final Thoughts on Sports Series
I still have my doubts about what sports are all about and whether it is something I despise or not. However, I have finally decided to give them an opportunity (at least in terms of team building), something that seemed impossible just some years ago. Watching The Last Dance and Drive to Survive gave way to this possibility. So, would I recommend them? At least for a nonsports fan, my answer would definitely be yes.
P.S. If you are like me and don’t really like sports, I also recommend you check out the book Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson, the former Chicago Bulls coach during the time of Michael Jordan. It is a great manual on team building.
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