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Culture & Religion

How Obsessing Over Sports Can Make You Happier

Sports psychologists have found that more ardent fans of a sports team form significant and positive social relationships that turn on identifying with the aspirations of the team. 

What’s the Latest Development?

As Spain’s national soccer team advanced to the finals of the Euro Cup, a country which is often divided by semi-autonomous political regions and rivaling sports loyalties has come together in a way that cements social relationships. Sports psychologist and Murray State University professor Daniel Wann argues that “the more passionate your fandom, the more positive the impact is on your psychological health.” Wann has found that for those especially ardent fans, social connections formed through their fandom play a “a significant and positive role in their lives.”

What’s the Big Idea?

As modern society has devalued the role of the tribe and then the family, one remaining place for people to gather around is the nation. And while that can potentially result in xenophobia, the sorts of bonds formed through the support of national sports teams creates camaraderie, especially in expatriate circles. The exclusivity of sports, however, has not been as well-studied when it comes to forming social bonds. What do national sports teams, and the communities built around them, mean to those who are not sports fans in the first place? Are they excluded in any meaningful sense from society? 

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