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?
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.
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.
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.