Aggression in Sports

I had a strange experience last week while playing residence intramurals, that remained on my mind ever since. Let me start off by saying I am not an athletic person by any means, so when I signed up to participate with my floor on a “sports team” I was doing it strictly for the bonding experience, as most of us were.

At our first game, the other team did not show up. This is merely residence intramurals, organized for fun, so we were not surprised. We stayed regardless, and decided to have a game against each other. In that game we all had so much fun. We were laughing, getting exercise, and genuinely enjoying ourselves.

I then went to the the next week’s game, which was the game that bothered me for days following. As my friends and I arrived, the other team immediately came across as extremely serious. We attempted to make conversation with them, but they were focussed and uninterested. As we began to play, their competitive intentions became apparent. We were being name called, pushed, kicked, and even screamed at. Let me be clear that this was not in a friendly way, nor was it playful or fun. Our entire team became frustrated, and I no longer had the desire to be involved.

I would expect this aggression if we were playing for stakes, or if this was an important athletic competition in someone’s sports career. However, this was residence intramurals. The point of the game was to have fun and get some exercise. It truly puzzled me. What was making this group so aggressive? Of course, there were a few people on their team who did not share the extremely competitive nature that their teammates possessed. Still, the majority of their group was genuinely angry and aggressive. What is it about sports that puts players in this hostile trance? Why do sports bring out this side of people? When we shook hands with the team following our game, the most hostile of the players, said: “Sorry, it’s just sports, I get angry.”

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I am genuinely curious as to what causes people to become so intense about a trivial game.

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