This is a response to the America’s cup fiasco.
I’m not talking about the Oracle teams cheating or the delays to racing due to seemingly contrary match rules, but rather about the kicked puppy response from the New Zealand public. It still shocks me to see how emotionally invested such a large portion of our communities seem to be in the outcome of events like the America’s cup. I’m personally all for people being enthusiastic and cheering for their team of choice, but it baffles me when that team loses and people seem to suddenly drop into a spiral of dismay or anger.
So much of the media coverage of public reaction has shown a drastic split between those who put a brave face on the situation and those who appear to be somewhat traumatized by the situation. I think part of this response is due to the hype and drama that media build up around the events of such sporting occasions. It reminds me of history lessons about the coliseums of the ancient world, where everything was geared to get the crowd excited and invested in the events of the arena. In those times the aim of the events was to create a distraction for the public from the hardships of daily life and to win the public’s favor for local leaders or high profile individuals.
These days our lives don’t exist on the same level of hardship and grind but people still seem to identify and react in similar ways to people of the past. There are a number of scientific studies that show a link between the levels of crime (violence) and the winning or losing streak of the local or national sports team of note.
As I said I am all about being supportive and passionate about a team or event, but it concerns me that people’s mood and behavior are so tied up with the results of various sport matches. Yes, I acknowledge this isn’t something unique to New Zealand, as evident in the occasional soccer\football riots in Britain or parts of Europe. But I have to ask can we not find other ways to build up our own sense of self enough that our happiness doesn’t depend on the outcome of sporting matches?
If there were more of a positive and reasonable focus from the media and others then hopefully the drastic reactions of supporters could be avoided and our sports people would not be driven to extremes in their pursuit of success.