why do people cheer for sports teams

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

why do people cheer for sports teams?

Why do people cheer for their team?
Why would a person feel sad when his team loses?
Why are there hardcore fans?

For the first instance it might appear that loving the game is the only reason that motivates people to watch it but when you get to know more about the psychology of fans you will discover that the love for the game is only one of the many other factors involved.

The first befit a person gets when he cheers for a certain team is a brand new psychological identity. People always want to feel that they are a part of a bigger and a more important group. When someone cheers for a certain team he gets the feeling that he is an important part of the team and as a result he feels more worthy.

Sports fans believe that they became one with their team and this helps them fortify this new identity they formed. That's why you hear fans saying "We won the game" instead of "our team won".

How the game's outcome affects fans mood

I said earlier that testosterone levels rise right after winning or defeating an opponent. All sports players get a testosterone boost right after winning but do you know that fans get the same boost as well? (see also 7 ways to increase testosterone naturally)

Because fans strongly identify with their teams they get the same testosterone boost when their teams win. It was also found that fans feel better about themselves, become more optimistic, feel more attractive after their team wins.

These positive emotions can persist for more than one day day. Fans moods were found to be much more positive one day after their team has won. The opposite was found to be true as well, fans feel much worse about themselves when their teams lose and these feelings can persist for the next day.

Some fans believe that their cheering was one of the reasons that affected the outcome of the game. This usually happens with hardcore fans who cheer for their team in real life and not in front of TV.

By believing that they helped their team win those fans feel that they have contributed to a great victory and so feel good about themselves.

Distraction and positive emotions

Distraction has always been one of the preferred methods human beings use to feel good and to combat bad moods. A good movie can distract you and help you avoid some of the negative thoughts that visit your mind.

Because cheering for a team is usually an emotionally intensive experience it helps fans escape from many of the bad moods they were experiencing. Add to this the positive mood boost that fans might get if their teams won and you will know why fans never miss a game.

Dopamine is the chemical that controls the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine motivates people to seek rewards. A dopamine rush results in a very good mood that is almost addictive and that's why humans become very motivated to do the actions that might lead to good rewards.

Cheering for a team that might win (a good reward) can result in a dopamine rush that makes a person feel very happy. That's another reason why real fans never miss a match.

Just as you saw the love for the game is the main reason people watch it but the other psychological factors involved are the ones that turn normal people into hardcore fans.

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