One of the few things nearly every country in the world has in common is sports fandom. When something is both odd and universal, there’s gotta be something deeper going on.

1 Sports provides an escape from life.

Life is a self-centered thing, and sports is often a nice place to focus when you’re sick of your own issues. Especially on days when your life sucks.

2 There’s high drama.

Because so many people are paying attention, and because what happens will be remembered for a long time, the stakes are actually high for the athletes you’re watching, which creates drama.

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This is the same phenomenon that made American Idol such a big hit—it was precisely the fact that it was such a big hit that created the drama that made it entertaining.

3 It’s fun to watch greatness.

Humans have a fascination with freakish greatness, no matter what the skill is. Sports is a great place to watch people who are in the best .001% at something do what they’re great at, against other .001% people. Meanwhile, you—who are in like the best 73% at that thing—get to sit on your fat couch and judge them. It’s fun.

4 Sports bonds you to other people.

On a micro level, it brings family and friends together.

A lot of people get together with friends to watch sports in times they otherwise might not see them, and I know no fewer than eight guys whose primary talking point with their fathers is sports. Sports isn’t replacing other, more worthwhile topics of conversation between those sons and fathers, it’s just adding a level of closeness that would not be there without it.

On a macro level, it gives the greater community another thing to bond over.

There aren’t too many times in life you can celebrate something with complete strangers and feel an emotional connection with your community as a whole. People love this feeling—that’s why Christmas songs make everyone happy. When they play in public all December, it’s like we’re all in holiday mode together.

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The best example of community bonding euphoria is an end-of-war celebration.

5 Sports can give two people who would otherwise be horribly awkward together something to talk about.

6 The sports world includes a lot of gossip.

Sports fans have a morbid fascination with the off-field drama of famous athletes in the same way people are captivated by the lives of movie stars.

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