Super Bowl and Super Fans: Why We Care So Much

TIME:

We’re not talking about the casual fan who watches the Super Bowl every year because he just really likes chicken wings, and all his friends are doing it. And we’re not talking about the fan who occasionally goes to a game if the opportunity presents itself, but doesn’t know the names of all the players.

We’re talking about the real fans who never miss a game and know every player’s stats without consulting their smartphones.

That applies even if the team isn’t successful; in fact, struggling ones often help to build stronger camaraderie among fans, and that can have positive effects on mental health as well, says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who studies the psychology of sports fandom. “I’ve interviewed fans that are constantly losing. It’s not bad for you to root for the losing team; it won’t hurt your mental health.” In fact, she says, “You get a survivor mentality.”

But just as with any attachment, there’s a flip side. If a game goes south, it can just as easily have a more negative effect on a fan’s mood and behavior. “True fans are really vitally wrapped up in what’s happening with their team. If they win, they’re elated, but if they lose, they may actually feel emotionally let down,” says Whitbourne.

Read the whole story: TIME

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