Something profound happens when we watch sport. You’ve likely experienced it.
No not the elation of seeing the ball hit the back of the net, or the despair of feeling that your team has been robbed. Something deeper. It gets our minds racing, and muscles tingling. It’s the feeling of being pumped up. Motivated. Inspired.
Brands know that athletes hold a unique power to influence our behaviour, which is why so many advertising campaigns feature sports stars — from the archetypal endorsement deal between Michael Jordan and Nike in 1984, to today, when athletes increasingly earn much of their substantial incomes from their roles as social media influencers.
But what is it about athletes that inspire us so much? What gives them the power not just to influence our perception of a brand or product but, more importantly, to influence how we live our lives?
They remind us to pursue our passions
Every professional sportsperson started out as a child with a dream. In fact, many of us shared that dream — but when we watch world-class athletes, we’re witnessing the people who stuck with it and succeeded.
Even if they’re not victorious in a given match or event, these are people who have achieved mastery of their discipline and succeeded in creating a life that revolves around their passion. Isn’t that what most of us aspire to do? Whether our passion happens to be sport, painting, playing violin or chess, watching athletes at the top of their game reminds us that success is possible, and inspires us to pursue it with renewed vigour.
They persist and overcome
The road to becoming an elite athlete is one of hardship and sacrifice. Mastering a sport takes many years of discipline, dedication, mental fortitude, and the willingness to sacrifice the things most of us don’t want to — not just crisps and the odd lie-in, but sometimes even relationships and other life opportunities. All this, for the privilege of competing at the highest level and pushing their bodies beyond their limits, again and again.
Their emotions are on display
Some audiences just want a fifteen-minute stretch class to watch a couple of times a week — but others take video learning a lot further. For an incredible illustration of video’s potential to shape the sports stars of tomorrow, consider the story of world champion javelin thrower Julius Yego.
There is no arena in which raw emotion is more abundantly on display than sport. We see athletes punch the air in victory, and break down sobbing in defeat (in fact, they often break down sobbing when they win, too). In triumph and failure, elation and pain, athletes’ emotions are laid bare for the world to see.
While a stunning performance from a world-class actor might move us to tears, the difference here is that we know this is real. In that vulnerable moment, when an athlete is overcome by emotion, we see them not as a superstar, but as a human like us. We can empathise. We can relate. And once we realise that someone is just like us on a fundamental level, not only do we feel a stronger connection to them — we can also be more readily inspired by them.
Find what you love, and give it everything
The role of athletes, and the myriad forms of Sports and Fitness video content that allow us to engage with them, transcends entertainment, and even education. For the reasons we’ve discussed and more, athletes hold a unique power to inspire us — whether to participate in sport, or simply pursue our own dreams with dedication and perseverance.
And yes, sometimes they can influence us to look favourably on certain brands. But above all, they inspire us to find what we love, and give it everything we’ve got.