For America, the Super Bowl has become much more than a yearly football game that determines the champion of the country’s National Football League. Over time, this final playoff match has become an unofficial US holiday, an event of massive importance to the nation, and a cultural phenomenon of sorts. According to most, that is something that began developing at the very start of the 1990s, and now, on average, more than a hundred million Americans are glued to TV screens to watch the big annual game. Thus, it stands to reason that an event of this magnitude will have some psychological impact on many of those engrossed by it.
Moreover, in recent years, sports betting in America has further boosted Super Bowl engagement. Making predictions and setting up stakes stimulates the mind, making this sport event much more enjoyable.
Without question, Super Bowl Sunday is a tradition that loads of people every year look forward to and take pleasure in soaking up. The spectacular halftime shows and string of awe-inspiring and humorous commercials add an extra spice to the game. But the social events surrounding it, as the emotional investment individuals put into its result, may trigger various feelings in viewers. It is a fact that the NFL’s premium happening can exacerbate addictions to things like alcohol, sex, and gambling for those diagnosed with a mental illness. Stressing out over who claims victory can also fuel anxiety in common folk, let alone those inclined to develop psychological disorders. That said, being a fierce sports fan also has its benefits, and below, conclusions regarding the pros and cons of being overly invested in the Super Bowl get examined.
The Positive Link Between Sports & Mental Health
Most fans can identify so much with the on-the-field activities that they can feel an almost identical sweeping disappointment associated with defeat as the players of a losing team. They can also go through many of the highs that come with the joy of victory. Per a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, the heart rate of fans in stands at sporting events almost always doubles. That occurs regardless of whether they classify themselves as a hard-core follower of a team or not. Many scientists believe this can be traced back to our tribal nature when humans roamed the Earth in packs that depended on each other for survival. Since now, we do not have the problems we did thousands of years ago, most individuals attach their sense of identity to a sports team instead of a hunting party, wanting to feel linked to something greater than themselves.
In 2019, research exploring how football impacts sports spectators’ self-esteem was publicized in Sage Journals. It looked to explain the attraction to sports, particularly for American college students, and found that football games can boost mood and self-esteem in fans even two days after a match, with winning-team fans displaying increased self-esteem levels. Other studies on this topic have shown that watching sports can improve language skills and brain function if one does so analytically. It can also aid in the stabilization of a man’s mental well-being by fostering friendly competition and a sense of belonging in adult males. Per data from a Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study that included over twenty thousand participants, watching sports while super engrossed in these events can also help combat depression.
The Downside of Super Bowl Engagement
Most psychologists agree that disappointment and negative mental impacts some people face when their team loses largely stem from these individuals partaking in substance abuse or obsessing over the game for days before it begins. So they are not everyday fans. Concerning this group, such persons are likely to have a preexisting disorder, such as one of the five common types of OCD. These are checking, rumination, intrusive thoughts, contamination, and organization. Most mental health professionals believe that with adequate medication and limited substance use, the side effects of sports teams’ losses can be lowered.
Other problems are obsession, depression, and social anxiety related to isolation during Super Bowl weekend, due to their unwillingness or fear to participate in social events.
Game Day Advice
Cheering on a team with many others brings a sense of community and makes it easier for most people to blend in. That improves confidence as it brings acceptance, releasing stress. However, everyone must learn how to manage the emotional lows/highs synonymous with sporting fandom. So, it is best to look at the Super Bowl as not an overly critical event. Please take it in small doses, avoid drinking too much, and pay attention to emotional queues.