What keeps a sports fan glued to his favourite brand of sport/sports?
A feeling of connectivity; not only with a team or a player but with every component involved in making the sport whole and complete.
Yet, apart from that there is one more "part of the whole" element which adds even more flavour to the fan viewership making sports something more than a by-rote or mundane affair.
Volatility is well appreciated sometimes, and when it comes to sports, then volatility or to call it in subtle terms "surprise" is more than welcome; surprise which almost borders on unpredictability.
Think about it. An almost rhetoric performance or display of sportsmanship won't garner any mass fan following, especially year-after-year and generation-after-generation; there has to be some zing or some flare up to bolster the "predicted" affairs of the game.
Take cricket for example; no one expected the English side to topple over the mighty Oz squad during the 2005 Ashes and when they did the honour, it added a twist, a sweet twist to the apparently prevailing one-sided Ashes saga and increased the anticipation for the next instalment of the series to be held after a couple of years.
Even in tennis, when Roger Federer defeated Pete Sampras—the defending champion and the crowd favourite at the 2001 Wimbledon, it jostled people out of their seats and out of a reverie that the tracks of the game were going to be changed like points on railway tracks.
And where people lamented the defeat of their favourite, a new favourite was being created at the same time who is still ruling the heart, mind and soul of the sport and his zillions of fans.
Thus, here emerges another positive attribute why surprise is essential for any sport; not only that it keeps us fans addicted but also helps churn out new found favouritism so that when the shelf life of a player becomes zilch, the fans just don't cease to follow the sport due to that reason.
A simple philosophy of "life must go on" reflecting itself in another field of professionalism; sport stars are definitely the backbone which constructs a sport but the backbone does need a body to make it itself valuable and fans provide that base, a solid and healthy base at the onset.
And to supplement the existing health and wealth of the body, a vitamin in the form of surprise is needed, while at the same time taking a look at it from a totally different aspect, it's a fostering borne out of optimism and pessimism.
Optimism when fans express their innermost desire and hope that their favourite will come through one day and pessimism when the same fans heart-of-hearts feel the tension and anxiety building about "what if...it doesn't happen"; a proper and neutral ground between a "glass half full" and a "glass half empty" scenario.
Ironically though, the same word doesn't bear the same emotion for two different fans; like Rafa's fans who hated the guts of Soderling after Roland Garros 2009 while the Swede's fans were enjoying the retribution of sorts.
A simple eight letter word which finds an equally simple meaning in the dictionary, becomes so complicated especially when tossed around with a fan's emotion and passion encompassing both the good as well as the ugly like a coin with two faces.
This convolution will and can never change; the word will and has to exist in the topography of sports and since it does so; no one can escape whatever good and/or evil it tows in with it.