I watched a baseball game tonight, and it got me thinking about why we like sports and contests.
In real life there are no winners and losers. There isn’t one characteristic that declares you to be the best. The people who are the wealthiest aren’t necessarily the healthiest or the most intelligent. And so much of what makes people great are the subjective factors. There is no easy way to quantify happy. Self-reports are skewed and all psychological evaluations are biased. But it isn’t just the subjective factors that are hard to score. Even our definitions of what makes a person the fittest vary widely. You could have a higher percentage of body fat, but be able to lift more weight than someone whose body fat is in the optimal zone.
But sports and contests take all that confusion away. The rules are clear and there always is a definite winner. And in so many ways it makes us feel better. You can’t second guess your achievement because it’s concrete. You are better than the other guys. Ultimately, I think that we like sports and contests because they make us feel more in control of our self-image and chaotic lives.