Saturday, 03 July 2010
If you are currently not living under a rock, you know that it’s World Cup season – a time when soccer gets some of the respect and attention it deserves in this country. On a global scale, this is an event that is treated with as much anticipation and devotion as the Second Coming of Christ (or First Coming, depending on your beliefs).
I’ve been trying to find a correlation between World Cup soccer and health so that I could submit a post about it on Healthkicker. And I think I’ve found my angle.
World Cup matches may boost your mental health (original article in USA Today).
Scientists are saying that fans who have enthusiasm for a team and actively show it by watching or attending games are blessed with boosts in mental health due to the affirmative feeling of social connectedness.
And when your team wins, this mental boost only increases. Something called “reflected glory” takes effect when your team does well, making you actually feel better about yourself.
Edward Hirt, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University, conducted a study in which he showed pictures of attractive members of the opposite sex to fervent fans of IU’s basketball team. He then asked them to rate their chances at getting a date with the person in the picture. After the IU basketball team won, the passionate fans of both sexes were more confident in their ability to score a date. They also became more confident in their ability to succeed in other activities, such as throwing darts, shooting free throws, solving word games, and rolling dice.
There has also been a study that showed increased levels of testosterone in men whose teams were victorious, and decreased levels in those whose teams had lost.
So unfortunately, a physiological drop in mood often follows a defeat. This proves the risk that die-hard fans take when they invest themselves mentally and emotionally in their team.
But that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because after the U.S. beat Algeria 1-0 (in the 91st minute), I was feeling damn good. And if I were a man, my testosterone levels would be through the roof.
Do you feel socially connected when you watch a sporting event? Does your mood depend on your team’s success or failure?