“Being a sports fan can be good for your emotional, psychological and social health”

Perhaps I simply like the idea that watching more sports could be a good thing but research suggests there are positive health benefits to being a sports fan:

Indeed, the stereotype that sports fans are overweight, beer-drinking couch potatoes is inaccurate, said Daniel L. Wann, a psychology professor at Murray State University in Kentucky and the author of “Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators.”

“Sports fans are quite active physically, politically and socially,” he said…

Fans who identify with a local team have higher self-esteem, are less lonely and are no more aggressive as a group than nonsports fans, according to Wann.

“Pretty much any way you look at it, the more you identify with a local team, the more psychologically healthy you tend to be,” said Wann, who has studied sports fans for 25 years. “You have a built-in connection to others in your environment. If you live in San Francisco and you are a Giants fan, it’s pretty easy to be connected to others.”…

Wann said fandom unites people at a sociological level.

“We as a species have a strong need to belong and a need to identify with something greater than ourselves. Sports is the way some people do that,” he said.

Read on for more details (as well as some possible negative effects).

If there are some benefits to being a fan, we could then ask why negative stereotypes about sports fans exist or are so persistent. Are these ideas perpetuated primarily by non-sports fans – how many Americans would say they are really sports fans? Are they related to ideas about boorish masculinity? Are there too many incidents of sports fans doing stupid things like rioting or acting childish after a star leaves town for another team?

Additionally, this article hints at this but doesn’t fully address the social benefits or consequences of sports fandom (the sociological dimension). For example, what about this question: does having a major sports team improve the collective experience in a major city? Can most or even a majority of a community truly bond and with long-lasting effects over a sports team or a sporting event?

I also wonder if some would argue there is an opportunity cost issue here. If you pay enough attention to sports, you could experience some of these benefits. However, there are other activities you could be doing, say interacting with your family (which is not mutually exclusive from watching sports) or helping others, and that you could miss out on. While I enjoy sports, I am afraid to know how many hours I have spent paying attention to them and then thinking what else I could have done with that time.

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