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Sep 20 / Viji Iyer

What is it about the universal language of sports that unites us unequivocally?

Wolfpack fans. Picture by dtraleigh

The other day, my husband was watching the college game between NC State vs. Cincinnati on ESPN while I was fighting for the remote to toggle channels between commercial breaks. Yup, don’t judge me, I’m not much of a sports buff as he is! But as they were showing a pan shot of the audience, I couldn’t help but be amazed to see the ‘sea of red’ in the crowd. Practically, everybody at the Carter-Finley stadium that day was wearing red, rooting for their team unanimously. Go Wolfpack! I thought, Wow what passion! What team spirit!

Something is to be said about the world of sports that just breaks all barriers. Even growing up in India, a highly diverse country, when it came to cricket – the national sport, everybody from my grandmother to my neighbor’s son doted over the Indian cricket team. Cricket in India is not merely a sport or a source of entertainment, it symbolizes much more than that. I see a similar thrill and fanaticism in the American football. If sports could be a religion we’d all be singing the same choir across the globe!

What I find most fascinating is the power of a game to just unite people across the board. Not only are they involved in the game but act as primary stakeholders championing the cause. They are fully present, completely invested and focused on their singular, unanimous goal – to win!  For those few hours, the ardent fans metamorphose and embody their home team spirit. They do what it takes to show their solidarity towards their team, even if it means cheering in the stands half naked with body paint showing your patriotism and loyalty.

What’s even more stupefying is that people accept that behavior as team loyalty versus scoffing at it. Isn’t that incredible?! You just let your guard down; throw aside your differences and fight for your team. You develop a pack mentality defending your team even if that means celebrating a win together or moping over a loss in unison. Common theme, being passionate about it no matter what!

As humans, as mundane our lives might appear with disparate backgrounds and lifestyles, on game day we transform, paint our faces red and go tribal humming the same fight song. We feel passionate! We feel powerful! Imagine what this could do for you if you piggyback on this euphoria?

At a micro level, what if you could rally this force and be able to generate this kind of energy on a day-to-day basis? I look at organizations and wonder, what can they do for their employees to inculcate, encourage and nurture this kind of passion? Furthermore, imagine the potential of what that can do for your company at large at a macro level? I believe, as individuals we all have that passion deep-rooted in us, for some it’s blatant and burning, for others it’s a matter of rekindling the spark. It’s in delving into that passion that has the power to transform things from ordinary to extraordinary! My next post looks further into that aspect from an organization’s standpoint to see what that means for them?

Pictures by dtraleigh and MattGDawson.

  • Deepa

    Very nice post, Viji! Keep up the good work!

  • Deepa

    Very nice post, Viji! Keep up the good work!

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