The Sports Lover’s Guide to Life

If you’re a serious sports fan, you see the world a little bit differently. Not everyone can understand why a person would be intensely loyal to a team full of strangers; not everyone can understand why playing a sport in high school, college, or even the pros would mean so much to some of us. Being really into sports means different things to different people, but it’s easy to recognize the sports-obsessed. They’re the ones waking up early to play in a rec league, the ones obsessing over the latest sports news on Twitter, the ones paying way too much money for front-row seats. Sports matter.

And when sports are your way of life, you can use that to make your life better. A lot of things about sports fandom can make us better people. Let’s explore some of them.

Use sports to build a social network

Do you love watching baseball? Do you love fantasy football? Well, you’re not alone. These are pretty popular things; more than 33 million people play fantasy football each year. So if you’re not regularly doing these things with real-life friends, you should.

If your friends aren’t into the same things you are, that’s OK. You can use the internet to find people nearby who share your interests. Then — and here’s the slightly harder part — you need to get together with those people in real life. See, studies show that real-life socializing is good for our mental health.

So get a fantasy football draft kit and host a real draft, one that you have in person with the draft board, the big stickers, and a few cold ones. It will bring the whole league together, and you’ll get to know the people who share your passions better than you do now.

Make sports a part of your travel plans

Watching sports is a lot of fun, but it can cause you to get locked into your couch or your barstool a bit too often. But what if you made it a goal to go see sports in person? No, not just across town. We’re talking here about real trips, such as a vacation that includes a foreign soccer match or a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field or Lambeau Field.

Better yet, make playing or learning a new sport part of your trip. Watersports are a wonderful way to pull this off. Try kayaking in West Palm Beach or surfing near Miami. Learn to water ski or wakeboard. Go scuba diving. Yes, they’re all sports.

Make playing sports a healthy habit

Of course, your vacation isn’t the only time that you should be actually playing the sports that you love to watch. Some sports fans include playing their favorite sports as a part of their obsession, but far too many of us supposed “die-hards” limit ourselves to watching the pros play while we finish off another slice of pizza.

Needless to say, that’s not a healthy choice. So it’s time to use your love of sports to break your bad habits and improve your physical and mental health. Get out there and get some exercise. Experts agree that we should be getting regular exercise. You should be getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of rigorous physical activity per week, at the bare minimum.

Not measuring up? That’s OK — an extension of your sports passion can help you. Join a rec league and play a version of your favorite sport to watch, or find a new favorite form of competition. Remember, you don’t have to be competing against anyone but yourself. Setting a personal record for a 5K is just as valid of a goal as beating State College at football.

Sports are everywhere in a sports fan’s life. But is your life everywhere in your passion for sports? Make your own life, health, and happiness your priorities — and use sports to do it.