Fans could Change the Game


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At the football game yesterday, all the fans came together and cheered their hearts out for Penn State.  There was so much support, cheering, and happiness... And the outcome was very favorable!  It made me wonder how much fan support really helps.  Did our screaming and yelling help Penn State win?  How effective are the fans?  I found that fans have a much bigger effect on the game than they think... and I found some science behind it!  It has to do with a reward system.  Typically, fans cheer for good outcomes.  Even if a player makes a bad decision, if the outcome is favorable, the fans will go wild with happiness.  For example, if the quarterback throws a pass to someone who is not open at all, he is making a bad decision.  But, if the receiver makes a really good or really lucky catch, the fans will still cheer and be extremely happy.  This could be a bad thing though.  Since the fans cheered him on, it may lead the quarterback to make more bad decisions in the future, and he might not be as lucky as he was when the receiver made that amazing, impossible catch.  This article says that, "Fans don't cheer for good decisions, they cheer for good outcomes. Sometimes that means cheering for bad decisions, which increases the likelihood those decisions will be repeated in the future. And that can hurt your team."  So, should we not cheer at this amazing catch if it was a bad decision?  This article suggests that it is all based on the system of rewards, and if the crowd learned to reward the team for good decisions instead of good outcomes, the players would learn to make better decisions because they are only being rewarded for them.  This would help your team play better and win more games.  Obviously, it is unrealistic for this to happen, because it is impossible not to cheer for your team after the receiver makes that impossible catch... but it's interesting to think about how much your team could improve if they weren't cheered on for their bad decisions!Penn State Football

5 Comments

This is very interesting. Do you think that players make a risky or bad decision based on the reaction they are anticipating from the crowd? Also, do you think that the reaction of the crowd helps the players with their game or do the good plays encourage the crowd? This scenario could be an example of reverse correlation. This idea seems like it's commonly used to help teach children how to behave. They are rewarded with good choices are not with bad ones.

I think the fans have a humongous impact on the game. I agree with what you said when you state that it is based on rewards, and that can teach players to make good decisions. I also believe it could be more simple than that. When the crowd cheers for the team it is a huge morale booster and gets them to play harder. There is also something called social facilitation when people will perform tasks they already do well, even better when people are watching. I The fans also have a huge impact when we are on defense because the louder we are the harder it is for the other team to hear their quarterback make play changes. Do you think that a system of rewards would actually work well for our players? maybe Ficken just needs more encouragement from the fans to make that last field goal...

This post was definitely interesting and I was surprised to read that there is a slight science behind cheering at a football game. Not only is there a science behind cheering but maybe also with "booing". It makes sense that when the crowd boos while the opposing team is on offense, they seem to make more mistakes. Especially at Penn State when our student section is so incredibly loud. Since the Penn State arena is way bigger then my hometown Cleveland Brown's stadium, I think the reason they keep losing is because they are losing their fan base and therefore having less reasons for people to cheer. That is the reason I think that Penn State does so well at home games because they have thousands of people cheering them on.

I definitely agree with you on the issue that fans will not cease to cheer when there is a play that is "lucky" and really should not have happened. As fans, especially at a school with a cheering section as big as Penn State, when one fan reacts, it is a domino effect. To this topic of fans causing outcomes of games, I specifically think to this season with Penn State football. After everything that happened with the NCAA and the sanctions, our fan base really got behind the players and supported the team in everything that they do. We all see the "One Team" signs and read that Coach O'Brien wants fans in the stadium as early as possible, so we buy into all of that, and rightly so. If Matt McGloin makes a not so smart catch, but our receiver grabs the pass with one hand, we like to think that we should "take what we can get" and cheer as loudly as possible. As Andrew once said it class, we like to think that we are better than others and I think that goes true with our fan base. We are behind our team 100% and we will give everything possible to our team when we are inside Beaver Stadium on game day Saturdays. As you said though, it is interesting to think about how fans can influence a game. I always like to think how the refs must feel when they have 100,000 PSU fanatics screaming at them when they make a bad call. I can see the side of the argument where some might believe it is bad to cheer for a player when the make a questionable play even if it turns out right, it is almost like praising a child when they really did something they shouldn't have, they need to be told what's right so they can improve for the future. My stance on that though is that at the collegiate level, I would think that these players know when they get a little lucky on a certain play. Don't you think the coach would make it known to the quarterback not to do that again? I know the fans will make a loud statement, which might make it seem that what they did was good, but especially at the collegiate and professional level, I would like to think that the coaches wouldn't be so convinced with how the play turned out based on the fans reaction. I'm sure Coach O'Brien would make it known that a play like that can't happen again, do it correctly the next time. Also, do you think that it is possible if fans cheered loud for a "bad decision" that it could actually pumped up the player more and allow him to want to get better? I just don't think that it is such a horrible thing to cheer for a "bad decision," a win's a win.

I thought this was an interesting blog because I wrote my own blog about another factor that could subconsciously affect athletes during a match-uniform color. However, from being at the game on Saturday and feeling the energy of the crowd, I could only imagine how amazing it would be to be a player on that field (a Penn State player of course!). As for how the opponents felt, Beaver Stadium is clearly considered one of the toughest places to play in college football for a reason!
However the idea that "Fans don't cheer for good decisions, they cheer for good outcomes. Sometimes that means cheering for bad decisions, which increases the likelihood those decisions will be repeated in the future" is certainly interesting. I think what's even more intriguing is how this logic of misplaced rewards ties into other aspects of our lives. For example, what implications does it have for a teacher to praise a student on his or her paper that, unbeknownst to the teacher, was plagiarized or written by the student's parent? Or how about the young person who is praised for drinking too much alcohol and somehow not getting sick? I think exploring the other ways in which this study and others like it apply to different situations could make for a fascinating follow-up blog!

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