Are you a dedicated fan?

Growing up and still to this day my family and I have always been huge sports fans. Both my sister and I played 3 sports in high school and my sister later on went to play division 1 golf. We not only spend large amounts of time watching each other play but also watch our favorite professional and college sports teams play. Growing up in New England near Boston means you better like the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics. There hasn’t been a season yet in my life where I haven’t watched at least 75% of each season. Across the country there are millions of dedicated sports fans that would die for their team. This popped a question in my head. What makes us so attached to our favorite teams?

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According to this interesting article I found research has shown that there is an increase in testosterone while watching sports due to the competitive nature sports has and therefore a simply explanation for increased tension between fans during games. Also, due to mirror neurons we have, fan sometimes feel as though they are the ones playing the game because we are watching the players in the game and think we are playing as well. Mirror neurons are like a mirror you look into, the reflection is doing the same thing as the person looking into the mirror.

Fans get riled up when they watch their team play because they feel like they are playing with them and in the game so there is a lot of emotion when watching a sporting event. Also, when your team is preforming well you obviously are happy and feel a sense of pleasure and sensation. Like I learned in psychology, dopamine levels rise when you have a feeling of pleasure. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that effects emotion. So like-wise, if your team is playing bad and loosing your dopamine levels lower.

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 In studies conducted by Daniel Wann, professor of psychology at Murray State University, results have showed that the more dedicated the person perceived themselves as to their favorite sports team, showed lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of self-esteem and positive emotions regardless of how well your favorite sports team has done. His research has also showed that the team you support is part of your life and something you carry with you, thus making yourself proud that you support them raising your self-esteem level. Personally… not to brag but after reading this research my self-esteem levels are probably through the roof because clearly the New England Patriots are the best in the league, Tom Brady is the GOAT,  and they’re going to win another Super Bowl.

I also personally think that being a dedicated fan to a certain team brings you together with others and is healthy for you because you meet and interact with others who have similar interests as you do. In a sporting event it is clear from the start that only one team can win. Winning together or loosing together brings you closer to your fellow fans and makes the bond between the team you support and your fellow fans stronger and only makes you want that team to thrive even more.

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Professor Wann in other studies he had done, also looked into the superstition of sports fans. In his study with 1,000 participants, more than half said they were superstitious. Likewise he found that the more dedicated a fan was to a team the more superstitious that fan was… pretty self-explanatory.

What does this make you? Are you a dedicated fan? After reading this I can say my dedication to my favorite sports teams is still very strong but not to the point where I have pregame rituals and prayers I have to say before my team play. Although, my dopamine levels will lower tremendously if the Patriots do not win the Super Bowl this year.

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7 thoughts on “Are you a dedicated fan?

  1. Julia Rose Gallelli

    Griffin,

    First, I am disappointed that more girls haven’t commented on this yet. Nonetheless, I find your post very relatable to me because I was always an active person throughout my years in school. From a young age, I used to dance, then moved on to horseback riding, played basketball, then joined a softball team, played soccer, ran cross country, practiced gymnastics, cheered, and now I am in college…so all I have time for is the gym if I am lucky.

    As you can see, sports have also been a part of my life. So, I was always excited to watch my favorite teams play every year. I am originally from the City of Brotherly Love- yes, you guessed it. I am from Philly. So my teams are the Flyers, Eagles, Phillies, and Sixers. Everyone can say how bad we are at sports, but I still stick with my teams because they are the ones I have grown up with. I am a fan, and I always will be of these teams.

    When we lose, yes, I am not happy. Sometimes there are weeks where the stress builds up waiting for the game, but I don’t let it effect my personality or life in any major way. Do I believe in jinxes? Yes, a little bit. I won’t talk a lot of crap just because of that reason. I can tell you that I do not and will not ever go as far as performing a ritual before a game to “better my teams’ chances of winning-” although at times that might be necessary for the teams I am rooting for. I don’t go that far.

    Overall, I think your post is well written, well supported, well organized, and very attention grabbing. I think you are absolutely right in saying that sports bring people together. When I sit in Citizen’s Bank Park to see my Phillies play, I always make friends with at least twenty new people in my section just from cheering and booing. It brings my family together and it’s just freakin good ol fashion FUN.

    Here is an article I read that discusses the reality of “Sports Fan Depression.” I think you might find it interesting and very much in support of your stance on this topic:

    http://thriveworks.com/blog/sports-fan-depression-is-real-did-your-team-lose-last-night/

  2. Tyler Mitchell Azar

    I can’t say I agree with your choice in sports teams, but this post definitely made sense to me due to my intense love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a sports fan, the highs are very high and the lows are extremely low. I had always wondered if there was a physical reason for why fans get so emotionally invested in watching grown men and women play games, and it’s very interesting to learn about the increased dopamine levels and the decreased feelings of loneliness that accompany rooting for a team. I hope you guys are ready to lose on Sunday!

    P.S. Here’s an article that mentions how children form lifelong bonds with teams/players and why: http://www.sportsnetworker.com/2012/02/15/the-psychology-of-sports-fans-what-makes-them-so-crazy/

  3. Emily Fiacco Tuite

    I am from New England as well and I am an avid sports fan. I have always been one those people who screams at the tv when something goes wrong. I have also been doing sports since I was a kid so I learned to love each game from playing. I do not have any rituals or anything but I still have a big dedication to sports. Here is an article about the psychology of being a dedicated sports fan.
    http://www.sportsnetworker.com/2012/02/15/the-psychology-of-sports-fans-what-makes-them-so-crazy/

  4. Michael Robert Szawaluk

    Griffin-
    I too played multiple sports in high school and am an avid sports fan. I really appreciate this article because I get beef all the time for I am from New Jersey and am a Cowboys fan. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that me being a Cowboys fan makes no sense, but I can tell you I am as dedicated a fan as anyone can ever be. However, I do not clearly see a hypothesis that you are trying to prove and I think that if you incorporated some psychological statistics on addictions or emotional attachments your blog would provide more detail. I did some research and found out that being a fanatic of a sports team can be classified in such a way of an addiction. That article can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-drugs-and-boredom/201103/the-fanatic-and-the-addict. Another aspect of this that interested me and something that I see in my own experience as a sports fan is the social media effect on different sports teams and how teams that are publicized as being “better” perhaps get more bandwagon fans and respect. I think if you were to incorporate these details, everyone would be able to decide for themselves if they are indeed a dedicated fan.

  5. Nathan O'brien

    I’ve been an eagles fan since the day I was born. I have watched every game, every Sunday for the past 18 years of my life. So yeah, some people might say I’m a little obsessed with the team. The Eagles have been through some pretty tough times, however I think it’s important to support my sports team even during tough times because of the sense of community, competitiveness, and pride that comes with it. It’s comical that you brought up superstition because I am never superstitious about anything except for the Eagles! The sense of community that you build with other die-hard fans is unlike any other. When you support your team through tough times you become much closer with fellow fans. I really liked the layout of your blog. I was reading an article about psychology and sports and why fans go nuts when they win (or lose). https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-social-self/201507/the-psychology-sports-fandom

  6. Matthew Edward Simco

    Very interesting article; I was actually considering writing something about the same topic. I am a lifelong sports fan, following a team in the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAAF, and NCAAB. Watching my teams play is often more stressful than enjoyable, because I am so emotionally invested in the game. The article linked below talks about why fans are so invested in their teams, and I think a big one is that sports bond you to other people. Having two parents who went to Penn State, we watch Penn State football religiously. It brings us all together. One of my good friends is only a friend of mine because we are both LA Rams fans. Coming from DC, not many people are Rams fans, and the Rams topic is what got us first talking. If it wasn’t for this connection, I most likely would not be friends with the kid. Apart from individual bonds, sports can bring a whole city together. When millions of people crowd the streets of a city during their championship parade, it is evident that its more than just a sport.
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/373329-how-many-youth-participate-in-sports-in-the-u-s/

  7. Joe Garrett

    I thought this article was well written and I found it interesting that being a fan of a sports team raises your self esteem no matter how well the team is performing. I believe this is due to belonging to a group of likemindinded indivduals who are all also rooting for the same team that you are. This gives us an “in” with these people and can make us feel more accepted. I posted about something similar to this topic here – http://sites.psu.edu/siowfa16/2016/10/20/is-being-a-sports-fan-healthy-for-you/

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