I do it with my Sox on

Posted on June 7, 2011

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Guess what people? Sox are playing the Yanks tonight. That’s right, get pumped!!! There’s nothing quite like getting my Sox gear on, plopping down in front of the TV, and watching the two biggest rivals in sports battle it out for 3 + hours.

Scratch that. Being at the stadium is SO much better. I’ve seen the Sox and Yanks play each other twice – once at Yankee Stadium, and once at Fenway Park. The energy of the thousands of people surrounding you, the floating smells of fried food and beer, and the game playing out right before your eyes makes for an amazing experience.

Being a baseball fan is a beautiful thing. But there was a time when I thought baseball was the most boring sport to ever grace the earth. But then, in 2004, I watched as Big Papi owned the game, and I fell in love. Baseball, specifically the Boston Red Sox, became a huge part of my life.

And then I discovered basketball. I went to a UConn Women’s basketball game and watched Maya Moore, at the time a mere freshman, rip up the court with unbelievable skill. Compared to baseball, the game was fast-paced and I found myself constantly jumping up and down and cheering the Huskies on. I  began to watch the men’s team too, and loved it just as much.

Then, my sophomore year of college, I went to my first UConn football game. Before that, I never understood why people would want to watch big sweaty men try to bowl each other over. But as I learned about the game, I found that there’s a lot more to it than that. With each game I attended, I understood more and more what was happening in front of me, and my excitement about the game grew. I then started following the NFL. My brother is a diehard NY Giants fan, and my boyfriend is a diehard NY Jets fan. While I would label myself a Giants fan, I do like and follow both teams. Never in a million years did I think I’d get pumped up for Monday night football.

Maybe you’re wondering at this point why I’m telling you all this. So she’s a baseball, basketball, and football fan – super duper! Well, being a sports fan has been such a positive aspect of my life. Getting excited about a game and rooting on my favorite team and favorite players puts me in a good mood and energizes me. I come to admire certain players for their passion and talent. And even though I don’t know them personally, I feel connected to them. I also feel connected to other fans. Being a sports fan has become part of my identity. When I wear a Red Sox shirt, I feel pride for my team. And I know that anyone who sees my shirt will know something about me without even talking to me. In sum, without sports, my life would be very different.

Take a look at this column by sports analyst Dev Ashish about the psychology of being a sports fan: Sports Fan Psychology: It’s More Than Just a Game.

According to the column, studies have shows that being a fan effects:

  • Identity – Fans tend to identify themselves with the teams/athletes they root for and consider themselves a part of the team/athlete’s journey.
  • Self-Esteem – The self-esteem of fans also rises and falls with a game’s outcome, with losses affecting their optimism about everything from getting a date to winning at darts, one study showed.
  • Escapism – Sports allow fans to escape their normal daily life, as well as social inhibitions and express themselves freely by cheering for their teams/athletes, as well as lashing out at rivals.
  • Euphoria and stress – Even among non-avid supporters, sport manages to bring about physiological changes, which induce various emotions like euphoria, dejection, and stress.
  • Sense of belonging – Psychologists add that some fans find a sense of belonging and acceptance in the sports that they haven’t been able to find in their life.

For the most part, people who aren’t into sports think sports fans are too obsessive. And yeah, there are certainly sports fans that are more worshipers than fans. But I think it would benefit everyone to start following a team of some sport, whether it’s baseball, football, swimming, bowling or whatever. Not that everyone in this world should be a sports fan – for some people it’s honestly not their thing, and that’s okay. But don’t assume that following sports is not for you. Because I once thought that too, and I was wrong. At least try getting into a sport, and you may be surprised how much you like it.

All you sports fans, write a comment with your favorite sports moment. Mine? The 2007 ALCS Game 7 Red Sox win against the Indians (NOTE: this  video was not taken by me):

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