Emotions that fluctuate between sadness and joy, feelings of anger that escalate suddenly and then followed by excessive happiness, and perhaps in decisive moments you jump up and raise your voice like a small child, not caring how people look at you. It is a circle that revolves within it, always connecting you with the football team that you encourage and follow all its matches, but the matter soon goes much beyond that, as it is related to the game of football in general, so that you are fond of encouraging a team in any match you follow, even if the two sides do not mean anything to you Thing.
In the early 1990s, Paul Bernhard, a behavioral scientist at Georgia State University, researched the secrets of cheerleading as a distinct human behavioral trait, to suggest that high testosterone levels in athletes, which causes rushes when playing and when winning an important match, occurs. Also at fans; That is, they reach hormonal levels similar or close to the players themselves.
Bernhard tried to gain a clearer scientific understanding of the fans’ biological interactions. He began by examining their saliva and found that testosterone levels were indeed clearly reflected in the winning team’s fan test results, 20% higher than the levels obtained by the losing team’s fans. In 1994, Bernhard continued his research path, following what happened with the fans of the World Cup final between Brazil and Italy, to record again the same proportion among the fans of the winning team (Brazil) compared to the sad Italian fans.
But the most striking result of Bernhardt’s experiments was not only to understand these differences between winning fans and losers, but also to show that testosterone is not only associated with strength or superiority during a fight or anger, but that the body can release it after some behavioral stimulation, even if It was purely a psychological experience, and in sports it could be a goal for your team, a professional move by a player, or a win. (3)
It goes even deeper, as fans’ bodies release a whole host of petrochemicals like dopamine (the neurotransmitter responsible for alertness, reinforcement, and reward), adrenaline (the neurotransmitter responsible for the physiology of motivation), and oxytocin (the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness). ), and the players share the excitement of the game without playing, training or effort. (4)
On the other hand, there are other benefits to be gained from cheering a team, for example, in the 1970s, psychologist Robert Cialdini conducted a series of experiments on students of seven major football schools, who would meet in the lecture halls after every big game , in schools whose teams won had more students dressed in team colors than in schools whose teams lost, Cialdini aimed to provide evidence of what is known as Basking In Reflected Glory, one’s visible declaration About his association with the successful, as if one of them, although he did not play an actual role in this success.
As for Daniel Wan, a social psychologist at Murray State University in the United States, he believes that identifying with sports teams becomes a way for some to enhance self-esteem, and sometimes an opportunity to enhance mental health in general, as a result of nearly 20 studies conducted by Wan and colleagues, announced Its 2006 results evaluated a variety of sports enthusiasts of different ages, including high school students, college students, and the elderly.
This research team found an increase in the level of well-being in the participants, and those levels were determined by measures determined by psychologists, such as a sense of self-esteem, the frequency of positive feelings, a sense of belonging to others and a sense of vitality, and it monitored that nearly 20 signs of well-being were associated with sports fans.
In addition, there are reasons that have nothing to do with the sport itself, i.e. winning or losing, that make fans fall in love with their teams, and we are talking here about the human bonds that this sport creates around it, we mean that you feel connected with people you do not even know their names, and consider that you belong to them (5).
In that respect, football as a social act is linked to the origin of man, and the tribalism he lived more than a hundred thousand years ago. His presence in interconnected groups ensured him the reward of hunting and fulfilled his original needs such as self-defense and victory while competing with others (enemies from other groups).
According to Desmond Morris, a scientist specializing in the study of animal behavior and its relationship with humans, many sports are symbolic alternatives to hunting – the system in which humans have lived over tens of thousands of years – and are therefore able to produce the same neurohormonal changes as hunting.
In football, players chase symbolic prey; The ball, and they cooperate with each other like a group of hunters to achieve a common goal, which in this case is not to seize the prey, but to score a goal in the opposite goal, and the fun happens even if the team does not score a goal, just as the human being enjoys hunting even if he cannot catching prey. (6)
Team sports, in that respect, is a contemporary form of tribalism in the view of some scholars, and as Cialdini sees it, our sports heroes are our army. Not only that, besides a sense of tribal affiliation, encouraging sports achieves another ambiguous social pleasure, which is the feeling that you are overcoming your opponent. Mina Sekara, director of the Harvard Neuroscience Laboratory, believes that sports may be a constructive outlet for the tribal tendencies of modern humans. We get a lot of fun with little damage. (7)
But it may develop into a negative impact at times, as the feelings of enthusiasm experienced by fans differ from each other, as they are in a moderate range for some, while they exceed the acceptable limits for others, which is explained by Jairo Zoluga, a doctor and professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the National University, we want to always stimulate our brains with something more exciting, something similar to what happens inside the nervous system of drug addicts.
Therefore, some fans may feel that their head is about to explode, or dizzy, their legs tremble, their heart rates rise, their lips tremble, their faces redden and their pupils dilate. From a physiological point of view, the emotions evoked by football modify the levels of endorphins, endocannabinoids and dopamine They are chemicals that transmit information between brain cells and are released by the body in moments of pleasure, stress, or any other emotion, and prevent pain. (8)
But exceeding the feeling of passion and reaching high levels of stress may affect the health of the body and lead in extreme cases to death, which is what happened with Luis Andres Martins, a 14-year-old Colombian Atletico Junior fan, who had a heart attack while running and waving. The red and white flag was used to celebrate his team’s qualification to the 2014 Colombian Football Cup final, and it also happened with Natalie Monsalve, a 19-year-old Atletico Nacional fan, who also suffered a heart attack while cheering for her team in the final of the same tournament. (9)
On the other hand, the matter may develop so that the fan becomes attached to the sport he loves to the point that he neglects his work and his life for the sake of the ball. One of the most famous American films that dealt with this context in particular is the movie “Fever Pitch” released in 2005, and based on a novel released more than a decade before that date. In the film, Lindsay, played by the American actress as Barrymore, appears confused because her new lover is a nice person. He is kind and really loves her, but he is so overwhelmed with supporting a baseball team called the Boston Red Sox that he misses almost everything because of games or fan meetings and activities, and in the end he may miss the most important thing in his life, which is the woman he loved.
Can we miss out on the really important things for the sake of our addictive behavior? In fact, this always happens, sometimes we are aware of it, but most of the time we do not realize it, and the first is always to look for those things that we are addicted to without knowing and that we miss important opportunities, whether it is our obsession with a football team, or a singer, or Only our smartphones and social media!