I suspect that we obsess about sports for at least two reasons. One, during a game is one time where a guy can pull up a chair and ask "What is the score," and anyone can tell him. In love, relationships, politics, careers, parenting ... in all these arenas the score is always, at best, murky, and one hears only conflicting reports. Not so in sports. No one doubts that Cleveland beat Boston last night.
We focus on the sports heroes for a number of reasons but I wonder if that doesn't trace back to some evolutionary hijacking. Battle and the warriors who represent us have mattered for millennia. We've probably evolved to be acutely interested in how our warriors are doing and feeling. Sports have, of course, become the outlet for the impulse for war. We still pay close attention to the athletes because we're still interested in how the battle will turn out. Of course, what was vital to survival of the tribe or state in one period has become of no consequence in the next. If the Boston Celtics beat Cleveland, the Celtics don't get to take Cleveland's factories and women. There is no longer any consequence, but we still pay attention.