""If you ask me, the only difference between a sports team and a gang is that gangs don't wear helmets and kneepads." —Fin Tutuola, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ("Gridiron Soldier")
Pick any professional sport. People make a living from, and others dedicatedly and sometimes over-enthusiastically follow people, playing games. Given how some people make a living from this, it may be justified.
It's to the point that professional athletes are put on a pedestal all year long, even regarding their personal lives: sports media will freak out about the slightest off-season incident even if it can be resolved without interfering with the player's ability to work, and the NFL has gone as far as institute a "Player Conduct Policy" with which the commissioner can punish players over matters not having anything to do with the league. Serious business, indeed.
Pick a movie about sports. Any movie about sports.
Australian cricket legend and World War II fighter pilot Keith Miller put things into perspective when he was asked how he handled the pressure of international cricket. His reply: "Pressure? A Messerschmitt up your arse is pressure. Playing cricket is not."
Legendary football manager Bill Shankly (link for baffled non-Brits) gave the page quote in a 1981 interview. It's also repeated as, "Someone said 'Football is a matter of life and death to you,' and I said 'Listen, it's more important than that'."
In Brazil, there's the phrase "o futebol é como uma religião", "soccer is like a religion", which perfectly describes how passionate are Brazilians (and Latin Americans overall) about soccer.
When Brazil lost the final of the 1950 FIFA World Cup, two fans in the stadium committed suicide by throwing themselves off a stand.
A particularly tragic case of soccer being taken far too seriously in that part of the world; Andres Escobar, a Colombian national team player who was murdered following an accidental own-goal which saw Colombia kicked out of the 1994 World Cup. It's generally agreed that his death was a result of the match; some argue, however, that it wasn't just the work of a particularly ticked-off fan, but committed on the orders of drug dealers who lost out big on bets made on the game. Either way, it's a pretty harsh example of this trope.
To make things worse, the murderer allegedly shouted, "Goooooooal!" for every shot that he fired.
And a new piece of Brazilian lunacy: Player assaults referee for getting a red card. Referee stabs player, who is hospitalized. Fans take referee hostage: when news comes that player has died in hospital, fans stone referee to death and decapitate the corpse.Sweet Baby Jesus.
In Central America, the Soccer War of 1969 claimed thousands of lives. There was a great deal more at stake than soccer, though.
Here is a video of an AC Milan fan sitting in the Inter Milan fan section, which sparks a fistfight that gets his jersey torn off. Not all that notable. Except this happened between Chinese fans, at an exhibition game, in Beijing.
Egyptian soccer fans are equally guilty of this trope. Case in point: In 2012, Al-Masry scored a 3-1 victory against top team Al-Alhy. Cue deadly riots by frenzied fans... and the population's disappointment at the police's supposed incompetence at handling the mad football fanatics quickly led to more riots, not over football, but over the assumed failure of the security forces. Easily one of the harshest examples of both this trope and the snowball effect.
On a lighter note, an Egyptian joke holds that Egypt is a country of three religions: Islam, Christianity, and football.note Theoretically, Egypt's legal system recognizes Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, but virtually all of the Jews left/were forced to leave for obvious reasons in the 1950s and 60s.
Italian fans are quite bad about this the worst of the group. Here's a couple examples:
In the semi-final of the European Championship the Italian football team defeated Germany 2-1. Fans have openly quoted the Bollettino della Vittoria, the war bullettin announcing the victory in World War I. It happens pretty much every single time an Italian team wins an high profile match against a foreign one.
In the 2002 World Cup, the Italian national team was eliminated in the Round of 16 by South Korea, in no small part thanks to bad officiation from referee Byron Moreno (later suspended by the Equadorian football association and investigated on charges of favoritism and even falsification of a report in a match between the Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quitonote at the time Moreno was a candidate in imminent elections for Quito's city council and the Barcelona). South Korean player Ahn Jung-hwan, who scored the decisive goal and at the time played for the Italian team Perugia A.C., was kicked out of the team, and Moreno was invited in Italy specifically to get booed and hit with rotten eggs and dedicated a song chanting for his death and the public toilets of an Italian town.
The earliest known reference to a game called "football" is a decree by the Mayor of London banning it for being a source of violence... in 1314. No wonder the Football Hooligans are such a popular trope.
Recreational soccer is a huge deal in affluent suburbs — usually more to hyperactive parents than the actual kids playing. Little League baseball is the same.
Melbourne Cup Day, a holiday in Australia celebrating a horse race. It's only a public holiday in Victoria, but the rest of Australia shuts down while the actual race is running. And that's all seven states and two territories - New Zealand included.note Seriously - the Australian Constitution names the states of Australia as New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand!
It's called "The Race That Stops a Nation" for a reason. But as it's held on a Tuesday and public holidays are Serious Business in Australia, most people try to skip Monday too.
Australians as a nation are, for the most part, utterly mad about almost all forms of sports (but especially the ones they're really good at, such as cricket and Australian Rules Football). Here's a fun exercise; watch any Australian commercial TV news broadcast and make note of how many of the stories relate to sport in some way. Bet it's over half. If you happen to live in Australia and aren't particularly interested in sport, it makes an otherwise wonderful country somewhat less wonderful to live in. It doesn't help that when they lose something that they normally win (as happened a couple of years ago, when England unexpectedly won the Ashes (a Cricket Test Series), or with recent grumblings about their winning less gold medals at the Beijing Olympics than expected), they can be pretty bad losers. Although strangely, unlike other places in the world with strong team loyalties, it's possible to wear shirts with slogans like "I support two teams: Collingwood and whoever is playing Brisbane" without being shanked. Try wearing a shirt saying "I support two teams: Manchester United and whoever is playing Liverpool" and see how long you last anywhere where the English Premier League is followed.
America doesn't have a holiday for the Triple Crown races, but there's still a heck of a lot of hoopla that goes into them, particularly the Kentucky Derby. The ladies with their elaborate hats, the parties around the area, the celebs and sometimes dignitaries that come... And it can escalate if the same horse wins the Preakness and has the Triple Crown on the line at the Belmont Stakes.
All this for a race that lasts less than three minutes.
Red Sox Nation
Specifically, the Red Sox v. Yankees rivalry. You do not want to wear even the smallest, most trivial item of Sox paraphernalia in Yankee Stadium during a game between those two (and vice-versa).
Martha Coakley found out the hard way just what Serious Business this was, when it cost her a US Senate seat... to a Republican... costing the Democrats supermajority. One particular problem was how adverse she was to actually campaigning for the election, which her opponent was quite comfortable doing. This trope tends to get play about one of her famous quotes regarding her loss - "What, did they expect me to shake hands outside of Fenway Park in the cold?" While the quote is more about her aversion to meeting with voters, the venue choice leads some to think that her disdain for the Red Sox caused her defeat. Compare with Massachusetts' other senator, John Kerry - while he has proven to be less than knowledgeable about the team itself, he does claim to be a fan, and usually gets a pass on his lack of knowledge.
"Titletown, USA" is written into the official political seal of the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
They got the Green Bay Packers logo in their seal.
There are also over a dozen streets named after former Packers in Green Bay, and that's not even including other civic entities such as the Ray Nitschke Bridge or Vince Lombardi Middle School. Granted, it's not like Green Bay is known for much else. Without the Packers, they'd be just another Dying Town in the Rust Belt.
Other sports teams where it didn't get quite so ridiculous:
Raider Nation was the first with the Nation name, though, circa sometime in the 1970s, definitely by the beginning of the '80s.
Even better: Steeler Nation. (Which was given its name in 1975, as the Other Wiki documents. You may note that's before "the beginning of the '80s.)
The Dallas Cowboys are were called "America's Team".
Cardinal Nation, but not about baseball itself. They take fan behavior pretty seriously—fans acting like jackasses get yelled at and piss everyone off. Only one player has ever been booed (Jason Isringhausen, a relief pitcher). Cardinal fans take pride in their classy attitude and good reputation.
The Serious Business of sports was mused upon in a Sunday(?) comic of Frazz, wherein Frazz and his cycling partner concluded that the unimportance of sports made them the most important thing there is.
Ice Hockey. People who think Canadians are always polite and well-behaved have clearly never been in Vancouver during a Canucks game.
...Or seen them burn squad cars over the results of a Montréal Canadiens game.
While this is still speculation, it was believed that those who burned squad cars had little interest in the game and merely took advantage of the Canadiens' victory, however given how fans react in Montreal who knows...
...Or been on Whyte Avenue during the Edmonton Oilers' Stanley Cup run in 2006.
...Or spent a week in Calgary during hockey season. Hockey isn't a sport: it's a cult.
In 1994 the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the New York Rangers. Cue riot.
It got repeated when the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 to the Boston Bruins.
Oh, 1955. Maurice "The Rocket" Richard gets suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs for hitting an official. Cue the riot at the next Canadiens home game.
Incidentally, he received a 16 minute standing ovation in 1996, and when he died in 2000 he received a state funeral broadcast across the country, with the Governor-General and prime minister attending. In Quebec, Richard was truly Serious Business.
Even more food for thought, this riot cost the city of Montreal an estimated five hundred thousand dollars. One wonders how the city has survived this long.
Or the hatred of the "Leafs Nation" by everyone else in the country.
Ottawa city council once passed a resolution banning anyone from wearing a Leafs jersey to attend a playoff game, unless said Leaf-jersey wearing fans ponied up a canned donation for the Food Bank.
You should have seen some reactions when United States tied the men's hockey game. Then when Canada won, this was the reaction.
In Spring of 2011 there was yet another election in Canada caused by the Liberals and other non-ruling parties triggering it. Said Election promptly took a back seat because both Canucks and Canadiens were in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yes, our hockey is more important than our Politics. And nastier too.
A political debate between all four party leaders were rescheduled because of hockey. I kid you not
Older Than Print: Chariot Racing in the Roman, and later, the Byzantine Empire. The hatred between the Reds, the Whites, the Greens, and the Blues was both comparable to modern day events like soccer riots. But then, in 532 AD Constantinople, an incident involving a botched execution of Blue and Green leaders for the murder of a citizen resulted in the two factions unifying and attempting, and almost succeeding, in overthrowing the Byzantine Empire itself. The Nika Riots were so bad that Justinian I attempted to flee the capitol, but his wife Theodora (a High Queen who was born a low-class woman) stopped him at the last minute. The riots only stopped when his clever resident hawk, Flavius Belisarius no less, was called back from retirement, along with two generals and several army divisions, lured the rioters into the Hippodrome, convinced the Blues to walk out, and killed thirty thousand people.
There were two things that could trigger a riot in Rome: the corn dole being interrupted and a bad outcome at the Circus Maximus. It was a well-known aphorism that while your loyalty to the Emperor might change, your loyalty to your chariot faction was forever.
Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson (or at least he was Chad Johnson) recently legally changed his last name to "Ocho Cinco," his nickname, just so he could put it on the back of his jersey. This despite that "ocho cinco" means "eight five"; "ochenta y cinco" is eighty-five. It was also mostly due to his ego.
Collegiate American Football is a religion in many, many parts of the United States. The greatest rivalry in all of sports, according to ESPN, is that between the Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. Other college blood feuds include Alabama/Auburn, Florida/Florida State, North Carolina/Duke, Oklahoma/Texas, Georgia/Georgia Tech, Notre Dame/USC, and Army/Navy.
The mania is even more intense for Ohio State fans than Michigan fans. I wouldn't be too concerned wearing OSU garb in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but I would never dare to wear blue and maize on the streets of Columbus, Ohio... just thinking about it is scary.
During one of the recent matchups, the city of Ann Arbor sent their own police officers along to protect their fans in Columbus. Legendary coach Woody Hayes reportedly went on a recruiting trip to Michigan with an assistant coach, who noted that they were about to run out of fuel. Woody was adamant that they would NOT fill up in Michigan or spend a dime there, and they had to coast across the state border, barely making it to the first gas station on the other side.
Mocked in ESPN commercials. One showed a man in OSU gear passionately making out with a woman in Michigan clothes. The caption was "If it wasn't for sports, this wouldn't be disgusting."
There was a great line written about a Texas coach: "He hates using war metaphors for football, because to him, there has never been a war fought with the intensity that he expects from his defense."
In 1997, Tom Osborne retired from the position of head coach of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (The Cornhuskers) football team. That single story took over the entire front page of most newspapers in Nebraska, plus large chunks of the rest of the news sections, plus a good chunk of the sports sections. OK, the guy had been head coach for 25 years, but come on people, priorities?
And then he became a state senator. At one point a lot of people were hoping he'd run for governor as well. Subsequent head coaches have been summarily fired for not quite measuring up. In Nebraska, Tom Osborne is approximately on a level with Jesus in terms of general popularity.
The Iron Bowl has always been huge in the state of Alabama, but when you add to it SEC (and even BCS) Title implications? You get the 2013 Iron Bowl (Entire game is posted). We do not exaggerate when we say that the state infrastructure shut down to watch the game, and it lived up to every bit of the hype.
And then the next day, some Bama fans stayed in Auburn for church. At a restaurant early that afternoon, a Tide family scratched out the 15% gratuity tip and replaced it with the words "Roll Tide," just because they were in Auburn and heard their waitress talking about the game (note, not the Tigers, but the game itself), and just assumed she was a Tiger fan.
Even after these happened, the Bama fans started making petitions, begging the NCAA to review the play, claiming Chris Davis Jr. was out of bounds during the run (some of them were very obviously photoshopped), but even in several reviews, there was green between Davis' feet and the white sideline.
The Iron Bowl as a game has always been huge in Alabama (consistently rated one of the Top 3 College Football rivalries in the USA with Ohio State/Michigan and Oklahoma/Texas), even to the point where, following a past Iron Bowl (2010, to be exact, where Auburn led a comeback to win), one Alabama fan, dissatisfied with letting Auburn gloat, decided to poison the trees at Toomer's Corner (a drugstore and surrounding property near Jordan-Hare where Auburn fans used to throw toilet paper on the trees whenever something good happened). The poison ended up killing the trees. The man bragged about it and quickly found himself arrested and charged with a slew of felonies, finally pleading out to several counts that put him in jail for several years (he was let out after six months for good behavior). The poisoning was so over-the-line that a lot of 'Bama fans publicly condemned the act.
High school basketball in Indiana, at least back in the day. Showcased well in the movie Hoosiers where the entire town came out to all the basketball games and followed the team everywhere they went. This was very much Truth in Television back when there wasn't much to do around a small town.
Since the introduction of class basketball to the state in 1997, well over half the former obsession is gone. That's communism for you. Down in Kentucky, where universal equality to all high schools still reigns, the obsessiveness remains as strong as ever.
Another college sport example, the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race. No cash prize, few of the participants go on to row professionally, and it's not even a championship (no one claims the two university crews are necessarily the best in the country, though they do train extremely hard). Still very Serious Business, and with a huge TV audience in the UK.
Kite flying in Pakistan; where competition has led to kite-fliers impregnating their kite-strings with glass in order to cut opposing kite-strings and attack rival kites. This has resulted in numerous deaths each year; despite the government attempting to ban it.
Metal kite strings add an extra fatality factor when you figure in power lines.
Also the case in Afghanistan. In fact, it's a big part of the novel and film The Kite Runner. The protagonist is so desperate for the winning kite, and thus his father's love, that he lets his best friend get raped. Drama ensues.
The practice is so ingrained into kite culture that a kite festival in the US has to explicitly state that no glass or metal may be used in the kite's line in a kite battle.
Every year, come late August, with the kite season coming up (kite-flying being part of the traditional sports played during National Day in September), Chilean authorities have to repeat the same message: Do not use glass-coated string, do not fly a kite near power lines...
The city of Toronto banned kite flying from a park because of complaints about metallic and glass kite lines. Outrage from citizens shocked that a city would ban something as mundane as kites collided with shock from learning that people would weaponize something as mundane as kites.
Rugby tends to ascend to this level in New Zealand. They have every right to take rugby seriously; their national rugby team has a winning record against every team it's ever played.
It's said that the All Blacks (New Zealand's national rugby team) winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup note for the first time in since the inaugural 1987 competition, even though they were the favourites pretty much every single time was a factor in that year's election results. The euphoria from the win negated the frustration about economy, and the incumbent National Party managed to win it.
Unfortunately for National, the euphoria didn't last as long as they hoped; by the end of the year they had dropped six percentage points!
The 2011 World Cup was hosted in New Zealand. The government rearranged school timetables, moving each of the school holidays back two weeks in order to accommodate it so the spring holidays would coincide with the finals. It didn't go down well with high schools coming up to end-of-year exams.
At the 2013 Halberg awards (the NZ sportsperson of the year awards), the Rt Hon John Key and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen presented an award together. They were introduced by the host as "the man with the most important job in the country, and the Prime Minister."
UNC and Duke have one of the greatest college rivalries in history; it extends to every sport (with the notable exception of football, because both teams are horrible - Duke didn't have a winning season in over a decade until going 10-2 in 2013, and two years ago UNC was booed off the field by their own fans), as well as academics and facilities. Depending on who wins their big rivalry basketball games (they always meet twice in the regular season), there is likely to be some sort of spontaneous celebration in either Durham or Chapel Hill that involves burning things in the streets and occasionally flipping cars, but it's usually too tame to be considered a true "riot".
This rivalry is such Serious Business, that a few years ago when Duke lost the NCAA championship to Connecticut, the town of Chapel Hill put a banner across the town's main street congratulating the Huskies for defeating the Blue Devils.
Also from College football USC and UCLA fans consider their games to be serious business. Not helped as the schools are close enough for fans of each team living next door to each other. Not helped at all.
The NCAA basketball tournament is VERYSerious Business. Commonly referred to as "March Madness", it seems like the entire United States gets sucked into it; people constantly discuss their bracket picks and skip work to watch games. Needless to say, a lot of money is involved in this whole song and dance.
Just to hammer the point home for non-Americans, even President Obama thinks that this is Serious Business, as shown here. He even tells the team he picked to win the championship not to "embarrass [him] in front of the nation".
While on the topic of college basketball, can we point out how serious of a business it is when it comes to the University of Kentucky? The Men's College Basketball Team is considered the uniting factor of the state. When the team was having a subpar (for their standards) season, the President of the University was said to be feeling the hot seat because the coach wasn't fired. Attack ads in the Republican Senatorial campaign were created because one candidate claimed to be a Duke fan over a UK fan.
Although football doesn't have the same level of support in Canada as it does in the United States, the various Canadian Football League teams and their fans still have passionate rivalries. Canadian football fans tend to go especially crazy around September, when the Labour Day Classic is played and the various teams play their most hated rivals in home-and-home games.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Saskatchewan Roughriders - case in point: at a Great Big Sea concert the lead singer mentioned that their next stop would be Saskatoon - cue the entire arena booing. (The Riders aren't even from Saskatoon, they're based in Regina.) Alan: "You boo Saskatoon?!"
The CFL is especially important in Saskatchewan, mainly because we don't have a hockey team to root for. 65% of CFL gear sold is Rider gear... and God help you if you like the Winnepeg Blue Bombers
Currently, in Turkey, mentioning the victory of Besiktas against Fenerbahce is a possible threat to your perpetual well-being. You have been warned.
This New York Giants fan after the Giants lost to the Eagles in the 08/09 playoffs. And it was probably even worse for him after my team the Arizona Cardinals beat the Eagles and went to the Super Bowl instead of them.
Said Giants fan was eventually brought on Tosh0 to be told to lighten up.
In a less funny example, Junior Tennis. There was once a player who got poisoned by the parents of another player. Those crazy tennis parents.
It was said on another Trope page, but calling football "soccer" in some places is grounds for murder.
As well as when they say that pads are for sissies. Even though pads do lessen the odds of serious injury, there are still people being killed to this day in American Football.
In Japan, baseball is serious freaking business. A common phrase associated with high school and college baseball is "Practice until you die."
At least in all these instances, there are actual games to get worked up about. If you want to see complete abandonment of good sense, watch the coverage of the NFL draft. All the drama, all the overanalysis, mock drafts, urgent updates from the various "war rooms", speculation, prognostication, hand-wringing, head scratching, elation, outrage, and fans... fans!... sitting in and cheering and booing the picks as they happen. All for a bunch of guys who have not played one single NFL game! (It gets even more ridiculous when you consider that you can't even begin speculating on their worth to your team until they get signed to a contract, which might not even happen at all.) Mel Kiper Jr. essentially has analyzing and predicting the draft as his entire career. Tell me there isn't something seriously messed up with that.
The hype is rarely if ever lived up to. The aforementioned draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. and dozens of others said to be in the know praised JaMarcus Russell as "John Elway-like" and fully expected him to throw up huge numbers in the NFL. Russell actually did get drafted first, but... let's just say all those experts have quite a bit of egg on their face; Russell is likely to be remembered as the single biggest draft bust in NFL history, never performing with even moderate skill in spite of his illustrious college career. Conversely, one of the most enduring and successful NFL stars of the last decade, Tom Brady, was a sixth round pick.
The Heisman Award. There is no award in college football that is more utterly meaningless in every way imaginable, and that includes the BCS Championship. Yet every year, there are massive campaigns, a lavish awards ceremony, and firestorms of controversy over who won and who didn't. We even find out who finished second and third, for crying out loud!
And then there was the controversy when former University of Southern California Trojans and current New Orleans Saints runningback Reggie Bush, who had without a doubt the most electric season the year that he won the Heisman (had 2,600 all-purpose yards (rushing, recieving, returning, and passing), and 18 touchdowns (15 from rushing, two from recieving and one as a punt returner) and broke out runs of SportsCenter Top 10 Plays quality almost every game) was declared retroactively ineligible as a player for the year he won the award over accepting illegal benefits. Bush and USC airmailed both copies of the trophy they received back to the Heisman Trust, who decided not to declare a winner for 2005. But this didn't stop sports journalists from awarding former Texas Longhorns and current Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young, who ironically tore Reggie's Trojans a new one in the 2006 Rose Bowl the next month to decide the national championship, the trophy. And to make things worse, Reggie's name has been stricken from all record books that he is mentioned in, all awards he recieved that year were taken away, and any images or mentions of him in USC's athletic facilities have been removed.
The President of France is personally holding an inquest into the French football team's failure to progress past the first round of the FIFA World Cup... the sports minister is on record as saying that "those responsible for this disaster must accept the consequences, first the players, then the team management and after them the football federation," amid whispered campaigns by players that the French people "need to know the truth" of what happened at the camp.
Even better, the President of Nigeria suspended the entire Nigerian national team for failing to get out of the group stage. Which means they won't be able to play any matches for two years.
This has since been redacted because - get this - FIFA (the world's governing body for the sport) threatened suspension of Nigeria's team from FIFA because the above constituted government interference of the country's program.
Even within the game itself. There is a gentleman's agreement that when someone is injured and needs attention, whichever team has the ball will kick it out of play so he can be treated, despite the fact that this will result in a throw-in for the other team. When play resumes, the other team will throw the ball in, and simply kick it down the field to the team who originally had the ball. This is taken very seriously by some, however, sometimes to the point of protesting to the referee when the other team don't kick it back. Despite the fact it's not actually a rule of the game.
A sports team losing their best player to free agency. When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat, the reactionwas about on par with expectations.
Association Football/Soccer vs American Footballdebates are very serious at least on the internet. Both sides are rather respectful in their debate and employ eloquent and well-researched arguments have Flame Wars about each others favored "football" with complete Fan Dumb behavior and absolutely pathetic and not researched arguments to why their sport is better. It would be easier if both sides just said "I just don't like that other football" and be on with it, but that's why it's here in the first place. Calling the former sport soccer is a Berserk Button to Association Football fans. Ironically, in a research mistake by these two sides, the word was actually coined by a Brit and not an American.
Washington Redskins on Dallas Cowboys. America's team my ass. This has been serious business since before the Cowboys existed! Their founder took our fight song hostage! And not just because it was exceptionally racist!
Recently, several Pakistani cricketers were caught in a match-fixing scandal. News reports suggest the Pakistani government may charge them with treason for taking payment to throw matches.
They were not, in fact, attempting to "throw the match", but rather playing in such a way as to change the conditions of the "spread betting", with which cricket is surrounded. The nature of the game is such that it is possible to bet on each individual event within a match (see rules of cricket for a better understanding of this phenomenon). Which just goes to show how serious a business cricket is, if your country's elected representatives wish you charged with treason for bowling 3 no balls, while still trying to win.
In Puerto Rico, Female volleyball is serious business. Boxing too.
Ken Burns' first sweeping, epic, 9-part documentary dealt with The American Civil War, a conflict that claimed the lives of over half a million Americans and forever altered the course of the nation. So what did he make his second sweeping, epic, 9-part documentary about? Baseball.
If you ever get the chance, go to a Notre Dame Fighting Irish football game. You will be amazed at how much they love that team in South Bend, Indiana.
There is a huge mural of Jesus with his arms outstreched visible from Notre Dame's home stadium. It is called "Touchdown Jesus" by fans.
High School Wrestling. Parents in some places have been known to shout things like, "Break his neck!" about teenage boys wrestling. In one case, a parent who said this, when called out on it afterward, repeated that yes, she really did want the kid on the opposing team to get his neck broken. Wrestling in general is pretty intense at any level. You'll find many otherwise nice parents turn into monsters as soon as their little Timmy steps onto the mat. And god forbid the referee makes a decision they don't like.
The whole thing about taking games seriously can be placed thus:
"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." - UCLA Bruins football coach Red Sanders
Lakers basketball. When the Lakers are in the finals (which is pretty often) the fans tend to riot in the streets of Los Angeles whether they win or lose.
Fandom in general is getting pretty ridiculous. Many have gotten to the point where being a fan of a team makes them think they are part of the actual team, referring to them as "we" and "us" when they talk aobut them. This is despite the fact that said fans have no control over anything that happens on the field, they don't decide who plays, nobody on the team knows them, and often don't give them any money. Even if they do attend games and give them money, they're just spectators. Worse yet, if you bash their team, they take it personally. And don't ever mention to them that they're not part of the team.....
Not only that, but fist fights are broken out just because some twit criticized the other idiot's team. Non-Sports fans cannot help but facepalm
Devoted fans of a team can really impact performance, so in many instances, it is a "we" moment. When the crowd is behind an American Football defense, you'd better believe it's firing the players up that are about to run over the other team. When a team's supporters are chanting loudly at an Association Football match, not only does it embolden the team they're supporting, but it can also get into the heads of some opposing players and affect their playing. In basketball, Oklahoma City's fans in particular are some of the loudest and most devoted fans of a team you will ever see, and their constant knack for getting behind their team spurs them to victory. And possibly one of the most underrated moments is when you're standing at the plate, with three balls (if you're the home team batting) or two strikes (if you're the home team pitching), where the fans will get on their feet. This actually can amp up the pressure and cause both wild pitches or swings at pitches that have no business being swung at.
Running. The vast majority of runners are only in it for their own fitness, and many marathons are held as charity fundraisers, but God help you if you call them joggers...
Scuba Diving. Yes, really. You start out thinking, oh this is fun, but then you see the different certification cards. The Gold 500, the platinum 1000, the Pro 5000, it's scary for a poor, rec diver. And that's not going into the gear debates (want to see scuba divers come within inches of murder? Ask about rebreathers).
The Australia vs New Zealand Sibling Rivalry is usually just a friendly joke... until sports come into the picture. Although rugby union, rugby league, netball and cricket are the big four, it really doesn't matter what sport is being played.
Chicagoans often take their Cubs VS White Sox rivalry very seriously.
In many parts of the South, the Holy Trinity is God, Jesus and Dale Earnhardt.
Surfing. In Polynesian culture, surfing has deep cultural and spiritual associations, and many surfers find it annoying when tourists treat it as a mere pastime. In Hawaii in particular, there are "locals only" beaches, and informal clubs and gangs that make sure they stay that way. In Southern California localism has even led to violence on occasion.
High school lacrosse in private schools is on par with a cultural movement.
Gaelic Football and Hurling in Ireland.
In some parts of England, cricket is virtually a religion unto itself. The talk show host Michael Parkinson, in his autobiography, related how his pregnant wife was virtually abducted by his father to ensure the child was born in Yorkshire and thus eligible to play for the Yorkshire cricket team.
Former Australian prime minister John Howard once said that the man with the most important job in the country was the captain of the Australian cricket team.
Race relations are extremely serious business in the world of basketball. The NBA is in the process of expelling one of its team owners for a racist rant towards his mistress that was recorded on audio and leaked by TMZ, and that's just one of his alleged crimes against race relations, but perhaps the most vicious of all as it directly threatened to undermine the NBA itself. Also, the usage of the old idiom "chink in the armor" as a headline on the ESPN website to refer to a slump being undergone by a Knicks player who just so happens to be Chinese-American severely TARFU'd the idiom's reputation, perhaps even beyond all repair (previously, the phrase had been used without controversy to refer to other sports-related slumps). The editor who committed that boner? Fired. It just goes to show how much of a champion the sport is in terms of race relations.