ItБs March, which means itБs almost time for the NCAA Tournament
a 68-team college basketball competition that has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States. Every year, БMarch MadnessБ saturates the media for its months-long cycle, but of course, this is nothing out of the ordinary for the sports world. The calendar is punctuated by blockbuster sports events the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympics, the World Series and to fans, they can be the most important events in the calendar year. Yet itБs not totally clear why sports have such a hold on us, and whether our obsession is justified. in the United States play a team sport on a regular basis. Past that age simply watching college-level, professional and international sports can become a critical part of life. Almost 112 million people watched Super Bowl 50 this February, and itБs predicted that 480,000 tourists will flood Rio for this summerБs Olympics. The sports market in North America alone was worth more than $60 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $73 billion by 2019. that for fans, being identified with a favorite team is more important than being identified with their work and social groups, and is as or more important to them as being identified with their religion.
Sociologists have hypothesized that sports subcultures work as Бtotems,Б serving as points of connection for communities and an outlet for ritual and religion in a time when actual religiosity. Support for a certain team or club can serve as a point of identity and belonging, either crossing lines of age, race and background. , even as its distinct undersides persist. Fandom wins out over the of the sports media, the of the athletes the fans cheer on. To an outsider (confession: IБm not a sports fan), the amount of emotion invested in sports seems over the top. The superstitious, ritualistic and sometimes morally questionable traditions seem unwarranted given the situation isnБt life-or-death (and especially ridiculous when in service of ). So why do people spend so much time, money and energy on sports? Where does our enduring love of certain teams or athletes come from, and what does it reveal about human nature? How have sports become such an important part of our society, and what are the repercussions of such fervent fandom? Over the next few days, weБll hear from: Tim Bontemps, Washington Post NBA reporter.
Jerry Seinfeld, summarized the passion people have for sports teams, comparing it to. To a rational human being, it is difficult to explain why people should invest so much, or any, emotional energy into a game played between an assortment of athletes completely unaware of almost every fan s existence. Or in the words of my late grandfather, Tell me, is this Mr. Jordan walking around with a shirt that says Muschel on it? But as Eric Simons points out, we ve all been there before. Every sports fan has experienced severe nausea, stomach aches, and headaches when his or her team comes so close but loses at the last second. He or she has also experienced that unique euphoria that hits after a miraculous comeback or championship win that somehow feels comparable to significant life milestones. Illogical as it may seem, sports fandom appears to be on the rise. Ratings in all sports have been increasing, and the biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl, has now duplicated its record of over 100 million viewers. But why? As articulated by sports writer We are all pouring our hearts and souls into cheering for men (and women) who do not care about us, who are not like us, who are not the type of people we would ever associate with (or even meet) in real life.
In fact, this is not a new dilemma. Greek poet Xenophanes For our expertise is better than the strength of men and horses. to prefer strength to this good expertise. would for this reason a city be better governed. Sports psychologist Daniel Wann quotes G. E. Howard in 1912 as saying that sports fandom and spectating are: A singular example of mental perversion, an absurd and immoral custom tenaciously held fast in mob-mind, has its genesis in the partison zeal of athletic spectator-crowds. I refer to the practice of organized cheering, known in college argot as rooting. From every aspect it is bad. So if the sports fan experience seems so irrational and is condemned by so many academics, why do we do it? What do we gain from watching these men, on television or at the stadium, and celebrating their victories and agonizing over their defeats? The answer will hopefully be explored over a series of posts, but one caveat must be mentioned: When conducting psychological research, psychologists generally believe that people are often unaware of their own intentions and motivations.
Many studies confirm this belief, such as the Dutton and Aron study (1974), in which men approached on a rickety bridge by a young female were more likely to call her afterward (for a date) than men approached on flat ground. Dutton and Aron believed that the men misinterpreted their physiological arousal as a response to the woman s presence, when it was actually a response to the fear of crossing the bridge. Unfortunately, to date, no studies have examined the true motivation of sports fans. Several theories have beenВ offered, with only anecdotal evidence to support them, and other studies have been performed by asking the subjects for their motivations. Both of these methods are incomplete, but hopefully shed some light on such a perplexing topic. Dutton, D. G. and Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, pp. В 510в517. Simons, E. (2013). The secret lives of sports fans: The science of sports obsession. New York: Overlook Press. Wann, D. L. (2001). Sport fans: The psychology and social impact of spectators. NY: Routledge.