The Psychology of Spectatorship: Why We Love Watching Sporting Events

Sports, when taken as a whole, are by far one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. There’s such a huge variety of sports now that whether you prefer something fast-paced and exciting or something slower and more tactical, there’s something for everyone. 

But why exactly do we love watching sports so much? Below are some of the main reasons that sports are so popular, making sports betting online in Canada and in countries across the world so desirable.


Simple escapism is one of the biggest reasons that people of all ages and backgrounds around the world find sport so appealing. Many people have stressful lives and following their favourite team and sports stars can be a great way to forget about real world problems, if only for a while. 

A lot of sports have a season that lasts many months of the year, with multiple games every week, so it provides a constant source of entertainment and escapism for people. 


Excitement plays a big part in the appeal of watching sports too. Excitement isn’t only limited to the more fast-paced sports like basketball and football. Even slower sports like snooker and cricket can still provide a lot of excitement, especially in close matches. 

Another way people get excitement from sports is by betting on them. A lot of people will follow sports primarily because they enjoy betting on them. Of course this can be an issue for some people but for those who can do it in moderation and without risking their financial well being, it can be a great way to add excitement to the act of watching sports. 

Sense of belonging 

The sense of belonging that comes with following a sport, or more specifically – a certain team, is a big psychological component for why many people watch sports. A lot of people who follow team-based sports like football, NFL, basketball and hockey will support a particular team because that’s who their family has always supported. 

It’s not just the sense of belonging within families though; people form long-lasting relationships with others because they support the same team. 

Sense of pride

A lot of people take pride in being knowledgeable about their sport of choice and enjoy the fact that they’ve been following it for many years, or even decades. They’ll often be the one in their friend group who can answer questions about which team won a championship in a certain year, or which player scored the most in a given season.


Inspiration is another big reason that sports are so compelling to watch. Witnessing athletes and teams competing at the top of their game can help to inspire people in their own lives, even if it’s not specifically in an athletic way. Looking up to heroes and role models in sports is a big part of why they’re so popular with kids and teenagers. You only have to look at the social media followings of the biggest sports stars around the world to realize this is the case. 

The spectacle  

A significant part of what makes sports events so compelling to watch nowadays is the spectacle. If you take sports like American football and basketball, it’s not just the game itself that’s part of the entertainment but also the music, the halftime show and the atmosphere. It’s a big part of why live sports have become such a draw over the last 50 years or so. 

There’s no better example of how sports events combine athleticism and competition with spectacle than the Super Bowl. The culmination of the NFL season – the Super Bowl attracts a massive audience, both in the US and around the world. This isn’t just because it features the two best teams of that season competing for the ultimate prize though; the halftime show has become a huge event in itself, with many of the biggest names in music performing on the stage each year. 

Ongoing narratives

The soap opera element that many sports have is something that can be very appealing to fans too. There are continually developing rivalries among teams, players, coaches and fan bases that help add drama and excitement to many sports, especially those that are team-based. 

Following what happens week-to-week makes sports that much more compelling to watch, especially towards the end of a season when there’s the most at stake. 

Conclusion  As you can see, the psychology of why people find watching sports so appealing is multi-faceted. Even people who don’t follow sports regularly, will often tune into the biggest events, whether it’s the World Cup or the Olympics. The sense of community that they can foster along with the excitement makes it easy to see why sports are so popular with audiences around the world.