A new study from Ohio State shows that sports fans actually have more fun watching games when they feel negative towards their team’s prospects.Â Seriously.Â And no, I didn’t find this on The Onion website.
For sports fans watching their favorite team play, the greatest enjoyment comes only with a strong dollop of fear and maybe even near-despair, a new study suggests.
Researchers studied fans of two college football teams as they watched the teams’ annual rivalry game on television.
tudents from Ohio State, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University participated in the study. Before the game, they completed questionnaires about which team they were rooting for, and how committed they were to their favorite team.
They then watched the game on television from wherever they wanted, and logged onto a website during the 24 commercial breaks to answer questions about the likelihood that their favorite team would win, how suspenseful they thought the game was, and how positively or negatively they were feeling at the moment.
The results showed how important negative emotions were to enjoyment of the game.
“When people think about entertainment in general, they think it has to be fun and pleasurable. But enjoyment doesn’t always mean positive emotions,” David said.
“Sometimes enjoyment is derived by having the negative emotion, and then juxtaposing that with the positive emotion.”
In other words, if you think that your team won’t win, you have more fun?
Riiiight. I wonder if this team of crack (smoking) researchers ever took a few minutes to visit the Scout or Rivals forum associated with the team that was losing, you know, the team whose fans were supposedly having more fun.Â If they could decode the emotion of posters through the bad grammar, misspelling and pseudo-curse words, they would have had a very clear impression that those fans weren’t having any positive emotions…in fact they might have come away with the idea that a few of them might need to be insitutionalized while others might need therapy for anger management issues.Â The rest would probably be evenly divided between saying the coaches needed to be fired immediately and those simply venting their immense displeasure.Â It is like that everywhere.
And I do mean everywhere.Â Happy fans don’t riot like some English football soccer fans are wont to do.Â Happy fans don’t boo their head coach for his latest bonehead move.Â They don’t put For Sale signs up in a coach’s yard…when he isn’t planning to leave his job.Â They don’t get on websites like this one and vent immense displeasure with their team’s athletic director because…they are happy.
Truth is, when your team loses it can ruin your day.Â If you went to a game, you might want to get the Hell out of the parking lot as soon as you can and find something else to do.Â You sure as heck don’t want to linger and relive the glory that is losing 43-23.Â You might even find yourself in a wistful moment wondering how much sooner you could retire if you eliminated investing in your favorite athletic program and invested the money somewhere else.Â You might find it more palatable to mow the yard or clean the garage instead of watching your favorite team lose…again.Â That ain’t happy, that’s despair.
A lot of despair is what I am seeing all around the Wolfpack nation.Â I used to see nearly universal hope and belief. Â Not everyone is in a state of despair about the Wolfpack, mind you, but a very noticeable and palpable number of folks are saying that they have given up on NC State ever building successful programs in just about any sport.Â They are saying that they think that the administration of the university doesn’t value winning teams, and that the only thing that they do value is money.Â They are saying that they feel like they are taken for granted, and that they don’t like how that feels.Â They are also saying that if things don’t change, they are going to vote with their wallet and wash their hands of the whole thing.
That in turn will create a vicious cycle of failure: without money it is impossible to compete successfully against well-heeled schools.Â Without competing successfully, there’s no urgency among the school’s boosters to donate.
You can see that coming here at NC State.Â And it sure as hell won’t be fun times.