Somewhere on the edges of the human psyche lies a need for competition. Perhaps it's an Darwinian remnant buried in us, pushing us to try and foist our genetic superiority upon the world. Maybe it's a simple need to prove oneself against others, to take our own measure. Or maybe we're just drawn, in our craven way, to see who's fastest, biggest, best. Whatever its origin, sports is its highest expression. What those who hate sports, the people who complain about it showing up on the front of their newspaper or on their televisions, don't understand is that there's nothing dishonest about sports. Sure, there's plenty of dishonesty around sports -- just as there's dishonesty involved in anything that humans do. But the act of sports, the fundamental competition, is as honest, as real an activity as we engage in.
The athlete, no matter what level he competes at, is content to be judged on what he does. There's a purity to this -- a way in which the normal ways that we look at ourselves, the millions subjective cues and hints that we pick up on about other people -- all fade away. Instead, you have the objective. Who hit the ball farther? Who ran faster? Who won?
Why are sports important? There's ritual value there, of course. There's something magical about the way sports can unite people across social, racial and economic lines, forging their hopes into one. But there's also the more personal. Sports are important because they ask no more than simply being in the moment, completely.