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What is it about sports that makes us emotional?

Why does something as fickle as sports bring out the most emotional parts of us?

NCAA Basketball: ACC Tournament-Syracuse vs North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

How many things in our lives truly make us emotional enough to cry? There are funerals, weddings, ending relationships, a good movie, or television show among several other things.

But for most non-sports fans, things that happen in the sports world shouldn’t be something that brings people to tears. Those people don’t understand sports and the ties that fans have with their teams. Sports have given me some of the most emotional moments of my life so far, whether it be games I played in during high school or games that I watched as a fan. And these aren’t all sad crying type of emotions, there are many moments of happy crying emotions, like the 2017 national championship.

But why does a game that involves a lot of people we will likely never really know have such an impact on our daily lives? It’s because sports are one of the greatest forms of tribalism that we have in our country. We rally around our sports teams like very few things we have.

Our tribe colors are Carolina blue and white, and that interlocked NC logo brings out a smile in me no matter when or where I see it. I feel as if, even though I’ve never met the other person, we share the same bond. That’s tribalism.

In the cases of the players, even with never meeting or knowing the people that we cheer for, we connect ourselves to them. I feel like this is exceptionally true in the case of UNC athletics. For me, that is why one of the best nights of the season is senior night when we get to hear from the players about how much the program means to them because despite having never played a game at North Carolina, the program means a lot to us as well.

For some Carolina basketball fans, sports mean extra to us because of how relatable the program feels to us. The entire family-oriented theme of the basketball program feels like something that many of us attain to in our personal lives. And when one member of the Carolina family sees success, it means the entire family succeeds. That’s how families work.

Many fans find their identities in their sports teams, and that’s no different when it comes to North Carolina. For many people, being a fan takes you back to simpler times. Maybe it reminds you of watching games with your dad as a kid, or going to your first game in the Smith Center and looking up to see all those jerseys in the rafters. Sports make us emotional because they bring out the nostalgia in us.

In these times that we are living in now, those times are magnified even more so. I know watching replays of the 2017 national championship game still brings out the same feelings that I had on that night. And even when I’m forced to see the ending of the 2016 title game, those feelings are still the same.

These times without sports has made us realize how much sports really do mean to us, and that it isn’t a bad thing at all that we get emotional over a “silly game.”

So when sports come back, embrace the emotions. Because we never realize what we sports fan have until it’s gone.