I have for a long time thought of the watching of competitive sports as mere idolatry. It may be idolatry or it may not, but I failed to realize there is more going on, and it has to do with the way God has structured the world and time as an unfolding story. At the most basic, it is the story of light swallowing up darkness, of good overcoming evil. We eat and drink this story every day. It is so much a part of who we are and how the world is made that we often don’t even notice. Every time we move into some unknown thing and overcome the it, every time we learn something, every time we enter a new situation and come back from it having changed, we are acting out this story. The world is a little less dark to us.
At a very basic level, this is what team sports is. When the players enter the field, they are entering as warriors into battle. They are superhuman (god-like) actors acting out the great drama of the struggle between Good and Evil. When our team (the good, of course) wins, the world is a little more full of light. But woe when the other team wins. Even the sun is darkened in our eyes. This also explains why people are so attached to their respective teams. In terms of the great drama, it makes a big difference which side wins. The same seems to be true of individual competitions as well. The lone hero-to-be faces a host of antagonists and emerges victorious, or is relegated to the ranks of the common man. More or less. None of these games are to the death, so they can play out the drama over again while millions watch and await the triumph of the good.