7 reasons why sports fans are crazy about their teams

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why sports fans take it so seriously?

  • 1) The need for belonging: Just like humans need food and shelter they also need to belong to a community. One of the basic human needs is the need for belonging and this is why an isolated person can find life unbearable. People can satisfy that important need through various ways and one of them is joining a sports community
  • 2) Establishing an identity: One of the extremely important human needs is establishing a personal identity and projecting it to others. People buy stuff to confirm their psychological identities and to show them to others. One of the main reasons you bought anything you now own is that you wanted to reaffirm your identity. By cheering for a certain team people can project their identities to others
  • 3) Reaping the benefits: Right after your favorite team wins a match your self esteem will go higher and you will get a testosterone boost. When we identify ourselves with a team we start to share some of the benefits the team reaps. When the team wins you actually get to feel a part of this victory
  • 4) Fighting loneliness: People who have a sense of belonging to a community usually feel less lonely than others who don't belong to any community. When people become fans of a certain sports team they feel more connected and less isolated
  • 5) Unexpected rewards & addiction: When a reward is unexpected people get more hooked up to whatever they are doing. Because the score of a match is anything but expected the brain finds such matches very rewarding. As a result a habit is formed and the person becomes a lifelong sports fan unless something extraordinary forces him to change this habit (see Why candy crush is so popular)
  • 6) Tribal wars: Long ago tribes used to fight each other and the winning tribe reaped all the benefits. As humans became more civilized these ancient desire for war didn't vanish but it just took a different form. A football match between two countries is like a tribal war between two villages but in a civilized way
  • 7) Distraction: Life is full of problems and tough times. People who cheer for sports teams get so immersed in the experience that they manage to forget about their problems for some time. This provides a lot of stress relief and can charge one's energy

It's more than just a game

For a non sports fan it might seem like total nonsense but for sports fans it's something that satisfies some of their most important psychological desires. Each behavior that a person does and each habit that he develops is there to fulfill a certain important psychological goal.

If you tried to examine the behavior on it's own you will always come to the conclusion that people are irrational but when you examine the behavior in the light of people's psychological needs you will quickly discover that this behavior is essential for maintaining the person's psychological stability.

So you might wonder why do some people never become sports fans even though they have the same psychological needs? The answer is simple, humans use different methods to satisfy their important psychological needs.

Some people do it through sports, others join different communities but the result is always the same which is helping them stay healthy and balanced.

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