It's more than just the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, despite what we all have learned from that poor, tumbling, stumbling, bumbling ski jumper on the "Wide World of Sports" intro.
If you're a baseball fan, you probably honed your simple math and statistics abilities figuring batting averages and calculating earned run averages and checking agate box scores in the morning newspapers. By the way, it's not nearly as romantic -- nor nearly as frustrating -- to look up those numbers on the Internet these days.
Sports, you might argue, are made up of many teachable moments.
Absorbing details about when and where baseball, basketball and football games are played can infuse you with a healthy dose of geography, history and even time-zone knowledge.
For example, today I know that the city of Pittsburgh sits at the "confluence of the Allegheny, Monogahela and Ohio rivers" not because I learned it in sixth-grade geography or seventh-grade history but because time and time again I heard baseball announcers like Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Bob Prince and others set the stage for their broadcasts with that juicy tidbit of knowledge.
Historically, I knew that John Lennon had been shot to death that horrible Dec. 8 night in 1980 not because Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley or The New York Times told me, but because I was watching Monday Night Football as Howard Cosell informed the world of what had just happened.
And certainly no one has to explain what effect the convergence of Jackie Robinson and major league baseball have had on civil rights and America in general. That's an obvious byproduct of the sports experience.
Moments and milestones like that are to be forever cherished and embraced.
But today, the sports front is sending us mixed signals.
Consider the confused message sent by the very team name Utah Jazz. Must be some distant cousin to the New Orleans Tabernacle Choir, no doubt.
And consider the Los Angeles Lakers. There may be 10,000 lakes in Minnesota or a million stories in the naked city, but I don't recall any lake in L.A. (unless maybe you count Veronica of movie fame).
Don't even get me started on the latest college football conference calamity.
We all know there are really 12 teams in the Big Ten now. And 10 teams in the Big 12.
Colorado has moved into the Pac-12. Of course, Colorado is separated from the Pacific by a little obstacle known as The Rockies. Kind of like Mexico being "south of the border" but still in North America.
Now, of all things, the Big East is inviting Boise State to join the conference. Last time I looked, Boise was neither big nor east.
Next thing you know they're going to tell us the Super Bowl is going to be played in Indianapolis. In February.
Or that it's Nov. 2, and the Indiana Pacers have won the same number of games as the Indianapolis Colts (and it could stay that way all year).
What?!? Oh yeah, that's right ...
Ah, you just can't trust anything in sports these days.