Sports and Neurophysiology

Who should I be rooting for?

Sports and Neurophysiology

Postby David Yun on Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:02 pm

The vast majority of the Squishy crew are not sports fans, nor by and large, do they have meaningful experience with organized (and thus, training in) sports. For an avid sports fan like me, I've boggled at this disinterest for YEARS. Every other social group I interact with, except some that consist entirely of ladies (even then, I can ply a FEW of them with sports conversation), exhibit at least some passion for spectator sports.

I've long held that it was because they didn't identify themselves as fans of teams, and thus missed out on the thrill and agony of fanhood pathos, but that wasn't quite it either. For example, I recently was enthralled by one of the most amazing Word Series I've ever seen this year, but I couldn't care one whit about either team. I was nominally rooting for Texas as they had never won the Series, but when St. Louis gave me that game 6 rally, I was beside myself in wonderment. The Squishy peeps, by and large, wouldn't have cared at all.

So I chalked it up to them being nerds.

But this might be a contributing factor: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7179471/this-your-brain-sports

Batman's awesome. Every last one of us with functioning arms can "neurologically mirror" him punching a ne'er-do-well in the mouth. But if you've never taken a serious crack at sports, watching them be played at a world class level wouldn't fire up those mirror neurons. A baseball fan can totally BECOME Albert Pujols when he's hitting a game winning home run, or Curtis Granderson making a diving catch. If you've never attempted to make that play, you only mirror it via "broad congruency" and I'd imagine your interest and investment would be significantly lessened.

Anyhow, interesting article, especially when applied to our everyday activities like watching someone eat a peanut or nail a critical fallaway jumper (oh that's right, fuck the let's-cancel-the-season-because-we-are-dumb NBA), with further ramifications on how they impact our passions.
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Re: Sports and Neurophysiology

Postby trebuchet on Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:02 am

Fascinating article. I tend to agree with the writer's speculations because of my own experiences with sports and being a sports fan. When the Lakers play they make me "clench" (oh, right, fuck those guys).
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Re: Sports and Neurophysiology

Postby MadCat on Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:04 am

Meh. I played soccer when I was very young, and enjoyed it for a while, but overall throughout my developmental years that I remember best (thinking mostly of high school, here), sports fans/players have, to me, been "the enemy": society seems to make jokes about the "jock vs nerd" dichotomy, and that was definitely at play in my school.

We who prided ourselves on our intelligence, who won spelling competitions and were on the "Brain Bowl" team, were constantly frustrated by the preferential treatment bestowed upon sports players, especially football. They were given money by the school for uniforms and buses to games, had classes postponed for ridiculous assemblies in their honor; we were forced to get our own vans to drive to inter-school competitions, and were generally ignored except for an occasional brief mention if we won something. So there was definitely some resentment there; we saw "anti-sports" as part of our identities as "nerds", "geeks", "loners", etc.

Admittedly, there are a few sports I think are kind of cool... tennis, soccer, hockey... but I really don't feel the driving urge to watch them or consider them part of my identity.

Actually, the one thing I sort of do that with is the growing "e-sports" community, particularly Starcraft II pro gamers. I'm slowly starting to get into that, but to be honest, it's hard for me to be a devoted "fan" of ANYTHING. Sports, books, movies, hobbies... there are things I'm into, but nothing I rabidly pursue or celebrate with the mental force "fans" seem to.

(Which makes me feel kind of weird, and I wonder if there's some underlying psychological issue there, that I can't really "love" anything intensely like that. I dunno.)

Anyway, just my 2c. :ugeek:
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Re: Sports and Neurophysiology

Postby Mike on Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:54 am

Usually people backed down when I put my Magic cards away long enough to sink like 8 3 pointers during lunch. :D Otherwise I just made sure to dig a shoulder during football into anybody who called me a nerd. It pretty much forced that dichotomy to disappear.
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Re: Sports and Neurophysiology

Postby David Yun on Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:48 pm

This got WAAY off topic. It doesn't have to be about sports, even. It could be dancing - anything physical. The article was about the correlation between having familiarity with a physical activity, and the amount of neurons firing when watching someone else doing it.
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