We all have someone in our lives who is a sports fanatic: the person who never misses a game even if they have to cancel on another event, who defaults to sports to start any conversation and who becomes overly emotional about a win or a loss. Now consider the characteristics of addiction: other life obligations fall away in order to focus on the object of addiction, energy, focus and thought primarily go to the object of addiction and inappropriate emotional reactions are experienced over the object of addiction, amongst other things. Sports addiction goes under the radar in our culture because it is a widely celebrated passtime, but it is still an addiction and it can be toxic to relationships and other areas of life.
Sports addiction is simply when someone places sports at too high a level of importance. Sports addiction is not gender specific, although it typically effects males more than females. Someone qualifies as a sports addict when they are giving so much of their time, thought and energy to sports that other areas of their life begin to suffer. And just like with any other addiction, giving all your time, thought and energy to one thing gives you a life of imbalance.
Sports fanatacism is usually overlooked as a harmless passtime, but in reality, it can become hurtful to the people and the areas of life that are not about sports. In the case of a romantic partner, feelings of neglect are very common when one partner is addiced to sports, and feelings of disconnect usually begin to stir. Frequently, a sport’s addicts other areas of interest fall away to give them more time to focus on sports. There are even instances when a person’s performance at work or in school declines due to excessive focus on sports.
It would seem that a cultural problem such as this would be addressed, but in actuality, it is allowed to flourish. Interest in sports is so popular and addiction to sports is so widespread that the addiction is protected instead of corrected. Those who struggle in relationships with sports addicts are not validated but instead made to feel that they are overreacting. Despite how many people, women in particular, have expressed frustration with this addictive behavior, there is little support for change.