Are Sports Fans Happier? the Frenzy Known as March Madness Is upon Us. and Although Those Buckets of Chicken Wings May Not Be the Best Thing for Your Waistline, New Studies Reveal That Rooting Passionately Is Good for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit

By Kirchheimer, Sid | The Saturday Evening Post, March-April 2012 | Go to article overview

Are Sports Fans Happier? the Frenzy Known as March Madness Is upon Us. and Although Those Buckets of Chicken Wings May Not Be the Best Thing for Your Waistline, New Studies Reveal That Rooting Passionately Is Good for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit


Kirchheimer, Sid, The Saturday Evening Post


LET THE MADNESS BEGIN! March is the time when vasectomies increase by 50 percent thanks to the much-anticipated opportunity for patients to "recover" in front of their TVs.

March is also the time when workplaces do some real number-crunching: on the expected loss in employee productivity (estimated at 8.4 million hours and $192 million last year); on money bet on office pools (a hefty chunk of the $2.5 billion in total sports wagering each year); and even on the number of times workers hit the so-called "Boss Button" (computer software that instantly hides live video of games with a phony business spreadsheet), which was activated more than 3.3 million times during the first four days of last year's tournament.

But mostly, the NCAA Basketball Championship--better known as "March Madness" or "The Big Dance"--is a time that gives us something to cheer about beyond the game itself. If history and science hold true, no matter the outcome of the three-week tournament that begins March 13, most of the millions who will follow its hard-court action will emerge as winners. "That's because in the long run it's really not the games that matter," says Daniel Wann, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Murray State University in Kentucky and author of Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators. "Being a fan gives us something to talk about, to share and bond with others. And for the vast majority of people, it's psychologically healthier when you can increase social connections with others."

After conducting some 200 studies over the past two decades, Wann, a leading researcher on "sports fandom," finds consistent results: people who identify themselves as sports fans tend to have lower rates of depression and higher self-esteem than those who don't. Blame it on our primal nature. "Sports fandom is really a tribal thing," says Wann, a phenomenon that can help fulfill our psychological need to belong--providing similar benefits to the social support achieved through religious, professional, or other affiliations. "We've known for decades that social support--our tribal network--is largely responsible for keeping people mentally sound. We really do have a need to connect with others in some way."

But when it comes to opportunities to connect, the Big Dance may have a foothold over other sporting events. "The beauty of March Madness is that it attracts people of all levels of sports fandom--and for different reasons," says Edward Hirt, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Indiana University who researches how fanship affects social identity.

Some watch, whether or not they usually follow sports, because they are alumni or have another previous affiliation to these "tribal networks"--the 60-plus participating college teams. Others connect on the spot, perhaps because it's easier to form emotional allegiances with gutsy amateur athletes who compete with heart and soul (and while juggling midterm exams) rather than for the paychecks collected by millionaire pros.

Also consider the unique nature of the tournament itself--a series of back-to-back games over the course of several weeks with little to no idle time in between during which a casual fan might lose interest. "I have not seen any empirical evidence to support that March Madness is necessarily better than other sports events" for promoting mood and mindset enhancements. "But theoretically I expect it could be," says Wann. "There are only a couple of events--the Super Bowl also comes to mind--that seem to transcend typical fandom into being akin to a national holiday ... a reason for people to get together. But with the Super Bowl, everything leads to one game--and most of the time it's an anticlimatic one that's over by half-time."

With March Madness, however, Wann notes, "there's a longer, more drawn out event that provides more opportunities to engage in social opportunities and connections. And bonds tend to be stronger with a longer passage of time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Are Sports Fans Happier? the Frenzy Known as March Madness Is upon Us. and Although Those Buckets of Chicken Wings May Not Be the Best Thing for Your Waistline, New Studies Reveal That Rooting Passionately Is Good for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.