Sports Fan or Addict?

Sports-Fan-or-AddictIt’s not uncommon to enjoy catching a professional sports game or event, or even to support a team with real enthusiasm. But when does it go too far? When does being an avid supporter of a team or a fan of sports become an actual addiction?

This is a hard line to draw because sports seem recreational, a way for people to spend time together, and a relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Many wouldn’t think a person could actually become addicted to sports.

Sports addiction, however, is just one manifestation of the general disease of addiction. For Christians, it may even seem like a safe outlet – drugs, alcohol, porn and sex are not only taboo, but also clearly unbiblical. However, while the Bible speaks to the issue of idolatry, you won’t find any specific verses on sports addiction. But what is easily played off as harmless recreation can actually be a life-controlling compulsion.

Spotting a Sports Addict

Sports addiction will usually be recognized in the context of relationships with partners, family and friends. People who are addicted to sports clearly prioritize the time spent watching sports, being at sporting events, trolling the Internet for sports news and fixating on sports statistics. This can consume inordinate amounts of time, causing the individual to default on familial responsibilities, while consistently prioritizing team events or the start of a sports game over social activity or time spent with family. The individual may even forego sleep and work in order to continue keeping up with sports.

Emotionally, the addict may mesh their life with the success and failures of the sports world. Moods and emotions become dependent on wins and losses, the status of the team, the outcome of a game or season or the personal lives of players the individual doesn’t even know.

Relationships suffer not only from so much time spent on keeping up the sports addiction, but conflict can arise over preferences for opposing teams. Competition between teams can become competition between people, which can lead to rivalry and eventually may even end the friendship.

The addict may find themselves in dire financial straits from overspending on sports-related goods or paraphernalia, premium sports channels, expensive tickets or rare memorabilia. The issue may be further complicated if the individual drinks excessively while watching sports or if gambling enters the mix. Even seemingly social activities like fantasy football can become an obsession and a compulsion.

The addict may see that their behavior is unhealthy or concerning and may even feel a great deal of guilt about it, but may find themselves unable to stop. As the addiction continues, life suffers in all realms.

Getting Help for Sports Addiction

If you or your loved one is showing signs of sports addiction, it’s time to seek help. Sports addiction may be hard to identify—it doesn’t show itself as clearly as a drug or alcohol addiction. But that doesn’t mean the addict isn’t in need of help. You may begin by talking to your pastor. If the addict will be present at this meeting, they may be ready to hear the truth from someone else. Christian rehabs can also help the individual to deal with the deeper roots and causes of addiction.

The important thing to remember is that in sports addiction, as with any addiction, there is hope of recovery. Whether you’re the addict or it’s a loved one, recovery from sports addiction is possible.