I cannot watch a competition without rooting for one side or the other. Matchups where I don't care who wins or loses are incredibly boring to watch, for me at least. I want to be able to root for one side or the other, shout at the screen or field or players when someone misses an opportunity, curse out the opposition when they score and jump for joy when the team I'm rooting for wins a game. The thrill of winning and losing and the excitement of competitive games are what makes sports fun to watch.
Of course, that leads me to look for rooting interests whenever I watch a game. I have three teams that I'll root for no matter what happens: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, my local soccer team PSV Eindhoven and the Dutch national soccer team. But whenever I watch a game featuring other teams, I look for other rooting interests. Sometimes that's easy: does what happens in this game affect one of my three primary teams? Other times, it's different.
For instance, the NBA Finals. Oklahoma City Thunder vs Miami Heat. I don't really care which team wins - but I've grown to like Lebron James. Not because of what he's done, but because of the amount of abuse thrown his way, and the rampant abuse of the 'clutch' term to describe him. Whenever Skip Bayless hates you, there's a good chance I'll be rooting for you. Another example: the New England Patriots play the Cleveland Browns. I don't care for either team, and the outcome doesn't affect the Bucs, but I sure want the Patriots to lose - because man, I hate those guys. Of course, the advent of fantasy sports helps me find rooting interests, as well. Finally, sometimes I just start watching a game, and I'll find myself randomly rooting for one team or another for reasons I can't describe.
So, how does this work for you? Do you look for rooting interests in games? Who do you root for when you watch a match, and why do you root for that team?