Fires in the streets. Smashed windows. Flipped cars. Light poles toppled by alcohol-fueled crowds. Philadelphia awoke this morning after the triumph of Super Bowl Sunday to a city in disarray and this vexing question: What is it about sports that makes fans riot?
Why do fans care so intensely about their teams? What is going on in their brains after a win or loss? What circumstances make a riot more likely?
The effect manifests itself physically. Fans’ testosterone levels often increase after their team wins and decrease when they lose, according to some studies. And a 2013 study found that fans of losing teams experience an urge to eat more saturated fats and sugars the day after, while winning teams’ fans choose more healthful foods.