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The Emotions of Sports: Why We Cry

Have you ever gotten emotional over a sporting event? It can be cathartic and a way to experience a moment that you may not otherwise know how to process.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Three Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The first time I was truly overcome with emotion watching the Columbus Blue Jackets was in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nick Foligno had just scored to give the Columbus Blue Jackets their first home playoff win in franchise history, capping an incredible comeback from down 3-0 in the first period.

I can’t explain why it happened in that moment - it just did. I was totally overwhelmed with the moment and ended up sobbing next to an older couple i’d never met before and, thankfully, haven’t seen since. I left the arena and went straight to R Bar with somewhere between 200 and 3,000 of my closest friends. I didn’t know what I was feeling, I just knew one thing - I didn’t want that night to end.

My emotional bond to the Blue Jackets, and to sports in general, was born.

Anyone who knows me in person knows that I’m an emotional mess. I cry at everything - weddings, TV shows, movies, you name it. But nothing gets me like sports.

So - why do we do it? Why is it that a sporting event can move us so deeply when other things cannot?

It can be the memories associated, as Pale Dragon so beautifully laid out the other day.

It can be a generational catharsis - grandparents, parents, and children celebrating a big win, a championship together. Or, perhaps, the worse of two outcomes. Multiple generations sharing the heartbreak of loss, of coming so close to a goal as a family, as a community, and falling just short.

Sometimes it comes in the moment, as it did for me - an involuntary response to a moment we may not have anticipated. I was despondent in the arena when Pittsburgh went up 3-0. During the timeout taken by Todd Richards, a not-insignificant part of me wanted to leave. I couldn’t have handled it if I had - I would have never forgiven myself. But at the same time, man, I didn’t want to be there anymore. I’m forever thankful I stayed, though - I count that game four win among one of the greatest moments of my life.

I can’t hope to express why we get emotional over sports. It’s different for each of us. Some people are stoic. Some only cry over matchups, games, or events they were involved In personally. I’ll never begrudge anyone the way they choose to process emotions. No two people are the same.

But for those of you who cry over sports - you are not alone.

Have you ever cried over sports? Share your story below.