We know that many animals entertain themselves by playing games. But sports actually increases risks of death,or at least accidents. So why did evolution choose it? And why did evolution decide to make us look for entertainment every now and then?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ not moving and sitting behind a desk all day probably poses more risks. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Evolution didn't "make" us do anything, it created a brain which can choose to do or not do them. As for games and participant sports, think of them as practice for the various challenges of life - the old "use it or lose it", with a rider that if you lose it, you're lunch for something. The existence of pectator sports, though, leaves me completely baffled :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 4:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would advise that you read up some basics of evolution. Evolution does not decide; it is stochastic. Most sports are basically a kind of simulation of war, hunting or other essential physical activities that ensure fitness of the individual or the community. $\endgroup$
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG. Talking about evolution as 'deciding' is a cruder way to describe evolution than describing it as 'stochastic', but it isn't strictly wrong in so far as it describes what evolution produces as contingent on the relevant facts of the world - just as what an agent decides to do is contingent on the relevant facts. $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Hal though it may not be dead wrong, it instills a doubt and as such most people do not understand evolution properly. Therefore it is always good to be explicitly clear. Game theory also just predicts long term consequences (simulation of steady state) and ignores any possibility of an event that may cause a change of scenario. It is possible to model and predict the outcome of stochastic processes. $\endgroup$
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


This answer can be from many different perspectives! I'll try to blend them all together as much as possible.

First of all evolution did not choose to make us love sports. Evolution made us social animals. And sports is just one of the tools we use for that purpose. Think about it, because if evolution gave us sports, then you will play sports, your kids will inherit that bit of experience from you and they would be that much better than you. But no, we all start from level 0 when we try to play any games or sports. This is because, sports is primarily a motor memory

So why are we social?

This study back in 2014 was one of the first to suggest that memory can be heritable. It generated a lot of attention and the authors themselves suggested that their findings were standing on a very capricious footing and required further validation.

This point is valid because evolutionary forces require mechanisms by which features/mechanism which bestow advantages towards the survival of the species are positively reinforced. In this case social behaviour is the function.

Do not go googling the word Social behaviour, for some reason the wiki article looks only at dogs and cats. That is unpragmatic, because we also have the same function.

I will broadly breakdown social behaviour into

  1. Accommodation of non-aggressive behaviour from individuals in neutral territory.
  2. A means to communicate

But, you may ask how does social behaviour benefit you? Well the answer is simple, increased survival capacity, and better chances of propagation.

Such studies exist in crows, which have studied social behaviour. Indeed, if you start to consider studies in behavioural biology, you would find that there are instances where female mosquitoes do not just mate with any male mosquitoes, even in this case you can call it a very rudimentary form of socialising.

So in your case sports is a tool which allows us to accommodate and communicate with others in neutral territory.

You can take a look at this which better explains the social aspects of sports

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should avoid usage of statements like So why did evolution choose to make us social? .. Evolution does not decide. $\endgroup$
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 5:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .