We set our expectations high and later on struggle to fulfill it. Life is a journey that’s full of new everyday experiences which teach us new things. Watching a movie, playing a sport, singing and dancing are different ways to add color to our life. But humans have unrealistic expectations sometimes. Many love to watch a movie but do we expect to act like the actors in the movie after watching it? Absolutely no! We love to hear our favorite singers sing but we don’t try to imitate their singing style and become great. Also, some love to watch standup comedians perform in front of a large audience but they don’t start doing the comedy show themselves. But when it comes to sport alone, we do have greater expectations than normal. We never expect participation of audience in singing or comedy events but we do expect some tough competition and participation from audience when it comes to sporting events. This indeed is good as it encourages people to exercise more and stay active but we do need to think about the feasibility too. So, is watching a sport as good as participating in it?
The Gaming Effect
Sports involves endurance, competition, acceptance of defeat, participation and winning, of course! Have you ever seen a real sportsperson? He/she is full of determination, hope, stamina, fitness and always looks forward to giving 100% to the job at hand without any expectations. We do have a lot to learn from these sportspersons. We as individuals sit down in front of the television with our favorite popcorn/crisps in hand, make ourselves as comfortable as possible in our plushy sofas, put on the curtain blinds and bring in a theatrical effect to enjoy a competitive game of tennis or cricket side kicking the fact that most of us have not even stepped into a gym or taken a walk for quite some time now.
But we can also look at it from the view that watching a sport might inspire those already playing to involve more in their chosen sport, encourage those people who have disowned their sport to take it up once again and might even inspire some people to try their hands at some sports that they have never ever tried in their life before-challenging yet useful. Sachin Tendulkar might be the God of cricket to someone while Roger Federer inspires some other person to keep fighting without falling apart. Posters of our sporting Gods and their inspirational quotes by our office desk helps us pull through the day but are they good enough to inspire us to get up and play a game of cricket or enroll ourselves for tennis coaching? The answer would be a definite ‘no’ for most of us. The thought to take up our favorite sport does stay in our minds forever but the will to execute it never shows up even once for most of us. Still, we have a new research showing that athletes and fans witness remarkable improvements in their language skills when they discuss sports events because it’s the same part of the brain used to playing sports that’s now used to understand sports language. Watching a game of basketball is exhilarating especially when your team is in the finals. The audience jump and dance energetically on multiple occasions during the game and the heart rate (alongside increase in blood pressure) increases in several occasions but these can never be substitutes for actual physical activity endured.
On a Disadvantageous Edge
Contrarily, instead of benefitting us watching a sport might be the root cause of cardiovascular diseases, stress or even distress. Studies show that witnessing a stressful match even doubles the risk of a heart attack or stroke especially for those with an existing history of coronary artery disease. Another study found that there was tremendous increase in heart rate of those who watched any match-75% increase in those who watched it in their television and 110% increase in those who attended the match. The rates shot up during scoring and during any exciting part of the game rather than during the output of the game alone. Maybe its time to get fit and then watch a match instead of watching a match and praying to become fitter.
There have been statistical data showing that there was a rise in the percentage of individuals taking part in games-from 47% to 51% but many are not yet convinced with the results. Even after Sydney games in 2000 many Australians became more sedentary and obese rather than trying to lose weight and stay healthy. But Athens Olympics saw increased numbers in participation (almost by 6%) but the hopes were shattered when it dropped by 13% after five years (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160805-do-big-sporting-events-make-us-do-more-sport) where the country witnessed less number of individuals taking part in physical activity.
Watching a sport is only a pastime and nothing beyond that. We get the rush of adrenaline, excitement and some time to stay happy with our loved ones cheering for them and encouraging our beloved team to win. Very rarely it might inspire some one somewhere to pursue the sport and kickstart their career in sports. Otherwise, its only sedentary time spent in front of the television all the more with popcorns and soft drinks in hand.
Is Watching Sport as Good as Playing It? https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/16/is-watching-sport-as-good-as-playing-it
Is Watching Sport Bad for Your Health? https://time.com/4969707/watching-sports-heart-risk/
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.