Why do we really watch sports?
Whether you are into football, or cricket, or swimming, there’s always a sport that you enjoy watching or at least don’t mind. You also have probably seen some people who cannot miss a match and worry about their favourite team as if they were their close family. Or maybe you are that person! Today we are going to talk all about the psychology of watching sports.
How do sports create communities?
Team identification is similar to identification to a nation or gender. You search for similarities with those in the same group with you and for differences with everyone outside of it. This psychological connection gives us a sense of belonging to something greater than just ourselves. Some people a team is a necessary part of their sense of self, it is especially prominent for big teams like Liverpool, Bayern Munich or Juventus. And while there is nothing bad in trying to be a part of a group, it is important to notice when your own life becomes dependent on the success or failure of your favourite team. In the end, there is always a 50% chance of your team losing in any given match.
Is watching sports a man’s hobby?
According to research both men and women watch sports, however men were found to be at least twice as likely to be interested in sports. This could happen because of two reasons. First, there just not as many female sports and players. As we have discussed, it is important to us to identify with both the athletes and the fans, so them being a different gender makes it more difficult. The second (and probably more important) reason is the spectator lek. It is very prominent among birds and mammals. In this activity males gather and show off their advantages in a mock (sometimes real) fight, while others watch. And this is exactly the type of behaviour that can be seen while watching the World Cup.
Do we really want our favourite team to win all the time?
According to the talent-luck theory we actually want our team to lose sometimes. Wait, what? Psychologist Nicholas Christenfeld argued that even though people enjoy watching physical competitions and observe talent, we still want to be surprised. Some sports are more predictable than others, hence sometimes less exciting for the viewers. Also, this researcher says that championships are the perfect combination of the skill and chance, that keeps spectators captivated. In the end we feel it is unfair and demotivating if all the results can be predicted beforehand.
To be fair, there are many more possible reasons and factors for sports “addiction” that have not been explored properly. But having read these research findings you could dive into deeper understanding of what sports give you personally and maybe try and search for these factors outside of the stadium too.
Meanwhile, cheer for your team and stay safe!