This post is for those of you who follow any sport with passion... and also anyone else who's interested.
So I'm a football fanatic... Soccer. not the American football. Now there is something I have been wondering for quite a while now and I'll explain this through a personal point of view and then draw parallels with religion.

I am a die hard Leo Messi fan, who is basically the footballing equivalent of Lebron James or Kobe. Basically a lot of us think he's the best. But a lot of others think Christiano Ronaldo is the best. So its pretty much an active online war. Football fanaticism goes on in the world all the time. In fact people have actually fought a war over it.

Now no one shoved Messi fanaticism down my throat. No one said believe in Messi otherwise you will burn in hell. I am not even trying to feel a part of the larger group of Messi lovers. YET... Yet when someone says Messi is shit(someone almost always does :P) I feel deeply offended... And then the fight begins. A lot of you will be able to relate if you're die hard fans of some sport/team/athlete. 

Now I know religious fanaticism has a lot of different theories as possible causes. What i can't figure out is this. Are the exact psychological causes that make me feel this way towards football the same as what Religious people feel towards their religion? If so then why do we have these behavioral patterns? Is there a more deeply integral part of our minds that directly lead us to put faith in something that is larger us?

Tags: Psychology, Religion, Sports

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Darwin's theory of group or multi-level selection is one possibility."Teaming up" is a product of our evolution. I think it's probable but some leading biologists including Dawkins do not. A regular member, Belle Rose recently turned us onto this gem.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_humanity_s_stairway_to_self...

 

Yes but like I already stated. The fact that there are other messi fans out there doesn't really affect my belief. I'd still support him even if everyone else suddenly decided not to. My belief kinda transcends into a more personal unbreakable code if you will. 

but thanks for link

You are teaming with messi and his teammates, not necessarily his other fans. In fact you may be in competition with his other fans. Just like the various cults of Jesus compete with each other. The multi-level effect leads to all sorts of manifestations. All types of Christians will band to together against Muslims.

I think this connection may stem from you making a connection with football and Leo Messi. I think the reason so many people get offended when their favorite player is being insulted is because they place a part of themselves with the player, subconsciously. Fans either want to be that player, work with that player, enjoying watching them play, or all of those combined. Fans of anything seem to feel extreme joy that is even more than the person playing. I think this is a form of fanaticism that is parallel with religious ones. Although, I think that religious fanaticism is especially dangerous more often because religious fanatics think they are saving the world in their own view while sports fans just want their player to be indisputable in every way.

Hmm... so lets say my favourite player falls from grace.. say 'drug abuse' scandal or even murder charge eg:Oscar Pistorius. A lot of fans will invariably lose faith accompanied with a huge emotional shock and a sense of betrayal. Can this be done with religious fanaticism as well? I know I'm stretching things here. Its just interesting to think about.

Religious fanaticism is a lot more difficult because most religious people believe in immortal beings. Immortal beings can't suffer like mortals do. Although, sometimes a tragic event can make someone realize that the god that they trusted to keep them safe wasn't there to stop what happened. People still cling to their faith because they also believe that everything happens because their god made it so for a perfectly good reason that humans will never understand. Religion is much more than liking something or someone. It takes advantage of all the strongest feelings of love, trust, fear, and entitlement.

I think sports have joined religion as "an opiate of the people." FAR too much attention and energy are wasted on activities which are, when all is said and done, just a game.

And I'm not against sports. I followed The World's Cup, I watched a Portland Timber's game the other day. I expect now that I'm back in Portland I'll watch Trailblazer games fairly religiously. However, I don't lose sleep over these sports and I certainly don't worship players. Not even LeBron.

I'd say it's more akin to nationalism (and in the case of World Cup specifically, may directly be nationalism of a sort). It can be a healthy dose of wanting to invest yourself in a community (even if it isn't your community), or it can rise to a disturbing fervour which overrides all sensibility and decency. Throw large amounts of money into the mix and the whole experience can vary widely from a ("the") beautiful game to unchecked violence and corruption.

And yet as fans we aren't generally asked to accept anything extraordinary. Sure, there is ample superstition -- even religious superstition such as prayer and blessings -- connected to sport, but ultimately what we're attaching our hopes to is riddled with measurable data. Amidst all the superstition and emotional outpouring, the core of the whole thing is empirical results. Why should that matter? I can watch World Cup and be completely rational about my participation, even when other people are not. Can you really say the same for a religion?

I guess what I am saying is while there are a great many problems with sports which can rise to the level of religious significance, I still think there is a worthwhile distinction between sport-based and religion-based fanaticism.

So I'm a football fanatic... Soccer. not the American football.

I got a little excited when I saw football in the thread title. But I'm less excited now. American football is the only sport I'm interested in.

I am a die hard Leo Messi fan, who is basically the footballing equivalent of Lebron James or Kobe. Basically a lot of us think he's the best. But a lot of others think Christiano Ronaldo is the best. So its pretty much an active online war. Football fanaticism goes on in the world all the time.

I know what you mean. A lot of people say Peyton Manning is better than Tom Brady. I always ask the Manning fans if they think Manning would trade his record book puffballs for an 18-8 postseason record, two more AFC Championships and two more Super Bowl rings. Ha! That usually shuts 'em up.

YET... Yet when someone says Messi is shit(someone almost always does :P) 

When someone says a great player like Brady or Manning is shit, it's a dead giveaway. That person either knows nothing about (American) football or is trying to rattle me with trash talk. Any football fan knows Manning and Brady are two of the best ever. Even if one is better, that doesn't mean the other is shit.

I feel deeply offended... And then the fight begins. A lot of you will be able to relate if you're die hard fans of some sport/team/athlete. Now I know religious fanaticism has a lot of different theories as possible causes. What i can't figure out is this. Are the exact psychological causes that make me feel this way towards football the same as what Religious people feel towards their religion? If so then why do we have these behavioral patterns? Is there a more deeply integral part of our minds that directly lead us to put faith in something that is larger us?

If someone says one of the best soccer players in the world is "shit" he's a complete idiot regarding the sport or he's deliberately trying to insult you.

It's different if you've got someone reasonable who knows the sport and you both have the statistics and examples to make the case for choosing the better player. It's sometimes worth having a conversation with another fan of the sport on that basis.

But if you're dealing with a fool who isn't going to listen, refuses to reasonably explain himself, and does nothing but insult you? Change your reaction. Instead of getting angry, laugh and shake your head. You don't have to respond with anything but silent, good-natured scorn if you know what they say isn't worth a response.

YET... Yet when someone says Messi is shit(someone almost always does :P) I feel deeply offended..


Really? Messi is probably the best player ever and a multi-millionaire. Not much to be offended by there.

Interesting. Very nicely articulated. 
Here I'd note that I am not comfortable with my favourite team or player being the undisputed best ALL THE TIME(throughout his career)... that would be kinda boring. But yes that pretty much confirms your distinction of religion and sport.

But do think on this. Could there be a way to make people lose faith in there religion the way I would lose faith if Messi was charged with rape? The loss of faith I'm talking about involves a feeling of both shock AND betrayal/a sense of disillusionment. Now a religion ending war doesn't quite kill the faith. It only kills the the most faithful and makes others convert out of fear ie: the loss of faith is driven by an external source rather than coming from within. What I'm talking about is externally inducing the idea and then letting people disillusion themselves. Do give it a thought. 

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