The First New Sport I've Fallen In Love With Since Childhood

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read
The First New Sport I've Fallen In Love With Since Childhood

As a kid, I enjoyed basically every sport I came across. I like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, and hockey, and with the exception of soccer, I 12 year old me could have told you all the stars in each sport, what teams were doing well that year, and basically any other minutia you wanted to know.

Now in my 30s, I can do that for football, but that's about it. I still play golf, but I don't follow the pros anymore, and I don't even know who's the top couple guys in the PGA these days.

Over the years I keep trying to get into new sports. The World Cup is on and I think I'll finally get into soccer, but I lose interest quickly. I've tried to get back into baseball a few times, but there are too many games and it's just not that engaging to me, so I bounce within the first week every season.

I know it's cliche at this point, but in early 2021 I started a documentary series on Netflix called Drive to Survive, and I finally fell in love with a new sport. I was hooked on the show immediately, but my plans to actually watch the sport took many months to actually happen. I started watching in the spring, but my first race I ever watched like was the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December. I didn't plan on my first race being one of the most dramatic and controversial of all time, but that's how it went.

So why did Formula 1 connect with me when so many other sports have fallen by the wayside? It this it was a bunch of things:

  1. With 10 teams and 20 drivers, it's easy to get to know everyone.
  2. There seem to be generally good vibes between the drivers. There are certainly rivalries and things can get heated, but off track everyone seems to get along relatively well (especially the underdogs).
  3. Similarly, I feel like I'm rooting for basically everyone out there. I do happen to like Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, and Haas a bit more than the rest, but I'm happy when other teams do well.
  4. There is a whole engineering angle where each team gets to customize their cars within certain rules and whoever does this best will get the best car.
  5. Also, teams can update their car throughout the season, so some teams will climb the rankings while others fall off the pace as their modifications have different results.
  6. There are two championships going on at once, the driver's and the constructor's championships. The driver's championship goes to the driver who scores the most points, and the constructor's championship goes to the team who scores the most points over their 2 drivers. This creates tension as there are competing incentives for drivers, which causes interesting drama.
  7. There is a general vibe I like about the sport that I can't put my finger on exactly. I like how the cars look, I like the custom helmets the drivers commission, I like the photography, I like the several-hundred thousand people who show up to each race, I like the street circuits where they just wall off roads through a historic area and race at insane speeds…
  8. I like the games! I put well over 100 hours into F1 2021 last year, and this year's game just came out and now I've got a whole racing wheel/pedals setup on my PC that I'm just enjoying a ton, even if the new game is definitely in need of a few bug fixes.

Now you may wonder if I'm just a fair weather fan who's high on this trend, but I really don't think so. Drive to Survive is a very good show, and it's an absolutely masterful bit of marketing material for Formula 1, but I'm not in it for the show anymore. I'll watch the next season when it hits Netflix next spring, but I'm here for the racing, the drama, the community, and of course the games.