As someone in rhetoric, I frequently confront the question of motive. Why do people do things? Why do people hold certain beliefs and act in particular ways. And also, why do people like what they like and how are they brought to like it? This is likewise a question outside of rhetoric as a discipline: in art, literature, psychology, sociology, and even biology. And each approaches it differently: formal conventions in the things themselves (we like it because of how it is structured), cultural predispositions (we like it because our culture inscribes the thing with value), biological predispositions (we are primed to like certain things and dislike others through the process of natural selection).
Being in a discipline historically seen as without its own body of knowledge (thanks, Plato), I am free to subscribe to any and all of these. And I buy them all, but with a caveat. I buy them all not as separate or even competing explanations, but as incomplete explanations that necessarily need the other. Because each, in and of itself, begs numerous questions. Why do it's formal qualities appeal to us, why has culture decided to value it, and why have certain likes been selected through time?
Speaking for myself (as one invested in investigated likes), one of my favorite things about the Olympics is watching myself come to like and invest in things I did not previously like or was not previously invested in (at least not in the last four years). Most of the year I take for granted both the things I like and my liking of them. I like this or that, but I don't explicitly or obviously come to like things. I'll find a new a band or watch new movie that I like, but those are often like other things that I like, and I already liked music and movies to begin with. Investments are typically enculturated, embodied and emplaced (and all simultaneously) and happen outside of our conscious gaze.
Now, I do like sports and so, in that regard, I come to the Olympics primed in that direction. However, because of the intensity of the experience and its momentariness, the process of being persuaded to like something is magnified. I can feel myself becoming invested in a way I do not think we normally can. And, no doubt, my liking of the Olympics is no less enculturated, embodied, and emplaced. It is just, for two or weeks or so, I get to become aware of (or feel) this process.