I'm not a huge fan of sport; I should say that right now. For me a nice evening in with a book, or a political debate on the telly is much more fun. Maybe it's because I've never been very good at it, but I have never really understood what people see in sport.
Except sometimes I do.
As you may remember last weekend I went to Silverstone with my girlfriend and her family for the British Touring Car Championships. Now they are all massive motorsport fans and I am... not. I get that it's something they enjoy, but for me it's just guys driving around a track for a couple of hours. But this time it was different. Seeing the cars rush past me, being able to walk through the pit lane, pick a car that I wanted to support and, yes, see a couple of major crashes. That made it fun. I finally saw what everyone else saw in motorsport. But it wasn't the racing itself, but the atmosphere of Silverstone that made it fun.
But atmosphere is always helpful I find. It's the reason I have also enjoyed the few football matches I have gone to see - can't stand the game, but take me to the Emirates and you would never know it. But I don't think it's something that is just true of sport. The atmosphere in a place or a situation can do a lot to influence how we think and feel.
Take churches for example. A person may not be very religious or even religious at all, but I suspect that most people will admit that if you take them to a very old and very impressive Church - Westminster Abbey say - they will feel something. They may not understand what it is they are feeling, but they will feel something.
On the other hand if you go to something that you thought you enjoyed, but all the people there are clearly miserable, then shortly afterwards you are probably going to start feeling miserable yourself. We are all influenced by the atmosphere in the places we go. In quiet places we are quiet, in happy situations we are happy, in sad ones we are sad. No one is going to start making funny noises at a funeral for example.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to Silverstone. As I said above, I'm not a motorsport fan, and while I hoped that I would enjoy the experience I wouldn't have been surprised if I hadn't. I have other things I could have been doing. But luckily for me I did enjoy it. And not just because of the people I was with, but because I was in a place filled to the brim with people, all excited, angry, happy, upset and overjoyed as their teams succeeded or failed. It was kind of like a virus; once you were there you just got infected with enthusiasm. You couldn't help but enjoy yourself.
I probably won't watch it on telly though.