What Makes Sports Fans so Crazy?


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430171_499527070066448_1444217236_n.jpgIf you're anything like me, you are probably very pumped for the Penn State-Ohio State game this Saturday. Upon anticipating this game, I began to think "what makes us sports fans so crazy anyway?". It seems commonly accepted that this crazed sports mentality is highly  psychological.The article cites reasons such as group identity and reward in rooting for a successful team as reason sports fans get so into their team. But is it is possible that this all could also be highly biological?

One hormone commonly associated with sports is
epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline. Here, we often get extremely excited over a sporting event, causing our bodies to release epinephrine, increasing heart rate, causing excitement, and basically triggering our "fight-or-flight" instinct. This may be an explanation to why some people get so excited over sports. When they put themselves into a stressful situation, such as watching a close game, their "fight-or-flight" response kicks in, probably on the evolutionary basis of preparing our bodies to react to stressful situations.

13878.jpgBased on both the psychological and biological reasons for the apparent craziness of sports fans, that leads to the question: could the overly emotional response that many people have to sports be based on evolution? Some reasons that it could be are based on the psychology. One main reason people seem to become sports fans is group identity. People want to feel like they are part of a group. This could be evolutionary because in the early days of humans, it was very necessary for one to identify with a group to ensure survival. Perhaps, the desire to identify with a group comes through natural selection where over time, those who desire to identify with a group have survived and passed on genes. Another possible reason all of this could be based on evolution is because of the link to adrenaline. It is very important that a human body produces this hormone properly, in order to survive in possible life-threatening situations. Perhaps, also as time has gone on, those who have better "fight-or-flight" reactions have survived over the years to pass on their genes, leading to a wider population of people who get worked up over stressful situations. So maybe, we get so crazy over sports because it is in our genes to get excited over stressful situations, and today's "safe" world, we don't really have anything else to get excited over. What do you think? Is this evolutionary or not necessarily?

2 Comments

Humans are social creetures, and this issue may well be based on that instead of a pure "fight or flight" take on the situation. We tend to want to be a part of community and gravitate towards trying to be an individual a part of a group. As such, we can also develop a mob mentality, pushing our passions forward to achieve a solitary goal, which isn't necessarily shared but followed anyway. I thought it would be more interesting to see the effects these crazy sports fans have on a team. Operant conditioning, also a psychological concept, which basically trains the subject to have the desired behavior. Fans cheering for different things trains the athlete to repeat to have obtain the previous reward. Scoring for the team makes the audience erupts in cheers, while letting the other team score results in silence, and so the athlete scores more. As fans, we do this training naturally. Although, I wonder what would be the effect on the football team, if Penn State had a quiet weekend after we annihilate Ohio this weekend. *knock on wood*

This was a very interesting article to read as I have pretty much experienced everything mentioned. I am a huge sports fan and I care a lot about my teams. Adrenaline is definitely the biggest factor into why people are crazy about sports. Especially when it is a close game, I can not sit down patiently but rather jump up and down after each play. I am an avid New York fan while my friends are all Philadelphia fans. The hatred between both cities is tremendous in regards to sports so it is nice to be able to bond over this Penn State team especially with what has happened. When you are surrounded in an environment where pretty much everyone loves the same team, it is truly something special. Sports brings people together but can also tear people apart. Another key point that Lauren brought up is the ability to escape. While watching sports, I am only concentrated on the game and not what is going on in my life. It allows me to step back and relax.

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