SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen the new Star Wars film – and seriously what are you waiting for? – STOP READING AND GO SEE IT. Then, come back and enjoy this piece. 

OK, geek alert, I am a Star Wars fan and I unashamedly went to see The Force Awakens (TFA) on Dec. 17, the Thursday before it’s worldwide release. 

Now, I must admit I hadn’t planned to go see it that early because it was my understanding that it didn’t actually come out until Dec. 18 and tickets had been sold out for months so I didn’t bother. 

But as I sat scrolling various articles on Google and other places, I noticed there were showtimes for the 17th so, lo and behold, I found a ticket and sat in a packed theater with folks young and old to watch the latest installment. 

I got to the theater 45 minutes early and still had to sit in the fourth row because that was all that was available but it ended up not being bad at all. 

The movie itself was phenomenal. I laughed, cried, clapped, cheered, gasped, was filled with suspense, angered…pretty much every range of emotion one person can feel in a 2 1/2 hour period of time. 

But it didn’t take me long after I saw it to do what I do best and that was compare it to a sporting event. See, I don’t go to a lot of movies anymore but I certainly do attend my fair share of sporting events. 

Following is my justification of why Star Wars was just like watching a sporting event.

Clapping/Cheering: Nothing was cooler than hearing the audience (myself included) clapping when familiar characters and even machines were seen on screen. The first sight of the Millennium Falcon after Rey calls it a piece of junk; when Han Solo and Chewbacca appear; when Princess Leia (now a General) and R2-D2 and C-3PO are shown; when Poe and the gang blow up the weapon; and on and on and on. How many times do we as fans clap and cheer when our favorite players enter the field or our hated rival is defeated in the end? I can’t count the times I have scared my dog with my random outbursts at home. 

Crying: Nothing was more devastating than when Han Solo was killed by that no-good son of his. UGH! Ripped my heart out. And, I actually cried at the opening credits and when the story scrolled. I don’t know why but it made me emotional. On a sports note, I am a Miami Dolphins fan so, yeah, I do this a lot – crying that is. And before this year, I had a lot to cry about with my other favorite Florida team, the NHL Florida Panthers but they are making me proud this year and the only crying I am doing is tears of joy. But everyone has suffered a loss with their team that brought a tear to their eye – a fumble at the worst moment, a red-zone interception to end the game. It happens but it’s gut-wrenching. 

Anger/Gasping: I was angry when Han was killed and I was angry at Kylo Ren for doing it. Really? You have tears in your eyes and act all vulnerable and then you stick that light saber in your own father. What a miserable no-good, $%#^!

I let out an audible gasp when I saw that before the anger hit. Kinda like when a referee throws a flag when there isn’t a penalty or it’s on the borderline of something that happens all the time. There truly are no words at a time like that. 

Or when a player on your team makes a bonehead move that costs the team a penalty. You really just want to throw something. 

Suspense: There are so many moments where TFA has suspense. When Han sees Leia for the first time; when Rey touches Luke’s light saber; wondering who Kylo Ren is; where’s Luke? I mean, there are just so many times you are on the edge of your seat. And isn’t that EXACTLY what sports is? Edge-of-your-seat suspense? 

Joy/Humor: Han Solo, Chewbacca, Finn, Rey, pretty much all the characters provide humor in the movie. Some of it is overt and some of it is subtle but it’s there. And when you see the characters interacting, it brings you joy. Joy because it looks like they’re having fun and joy because they’re letting you watch it. Sports is the same way. We get enjoyment out of watching competition and there are some funny moments too. But, mostly, there is joy because for a few hours, we leave reality and get to live in another world. 

I guess all of these reasons are the beauty of entertainment, whether it be movies or sports or whatever we choose to do. We escape whatever troubles we’re facing if only for a little while but it’s a welcome escape.