The naïve assumption about athletic careers might be that they are motivated by accumulating individual prestige and basking in glory. But kama muta apparently (also) plays a big part. Here is a section of a paper written by Parker Scurria, a student in Alan Fiske’s psychological anthropology course on social emotions:
The Sacrifice For Kama Muta On The Mat
You are backstage and on deck, ready to perform a routine at nationals with your team that you have practiced for the past eleven months. You have turned down almost all plans with your friends, missed family gatherings, stayed up all night to finish the next day’s school assignments, woke up every morning with muscle aches, pains, and even sometimes injuries, all for this moment on stage. You
have endured some of the most stressful, nerve-wracking, frustrating, and glorious moments in your sports career. Six days a week and countless hours in the gym within eleven months, for a two-minute and thirty-second routine. The pressure is on as your team gets announced on stage, sets up, and waits for the music to start. The crowd is going crazy, you hear chants for your team and gym, you have adrenaline rushing through your toes, you take a deep breath, and you turn all focus into all of the hard work, sacrifice, and effort you have put into every practice to hit a zero deduction routine. The music starts, your team sharply executes each
section, and you reach the final sequence in your routine. You have zero deductions so far and a convincing possibility of taking home the national title if you hit the final pyramid section. Girls are getting tossed, doing flips, and being caught in the air, the crowd silences before the last skill, and then your team HITS! The ESPN Worldwide Sports Center arena is on their feet, screaming and clapping in excitement. The coaches in front of the mat jump in the air, create zeros with their arms, and throw their bodies up and down, hugging the other coaches knowing that your team just did it. The athletes on the mat burst with energy, happiness, and activate a spirit that the audience can feel. Through loss or win, at that exact intensified instant of hitting, the athletes on that mat had done everything in their power, have devoted unreasonable amounts of time and effort working together to experience and feel that exact moment of kama muta.