Psychology of Sports Fans

Topics: Social identity, Self-esteem, Fandom Pages: 6 (1000 words) Published: November 16, 2014
Psychology of Sports Fans

Have you ever watched a game and felt joy sorrow and excitement all at the same time? This may be because you are a fan of a certain team and you take them very seriously. Many people in this day in age are fans of a team in fact according to a recent Gallup poll 63% of Americans describe themselves as sports fans (Gallup, 2014, p. 1). But have you ever thought there may be psychological reason to the way you act when it comes to sports. This paper will discuss different aspects that cause people to act the way they do when it comes to sports. The main aspects that make up the psychology of a fan are how aggressive they get, the group mentality and how fans tend to connect to teams.

Fans also seem to become more aggressive when it comes to sports. In a study by Daniel Wann they would show pictures of people and would ask if they would like to injure or murder them they would then show players or coach’s from an opposing team and ask if they would like to murder or injure them (Wann, 1999, p. 10). It was found that people where more aggressive towered the rival team. Fans are willing to do this because they are willing to assist their team in any way they can. This shows that fans will become very aggressive when it comes to their teams. It was also found that if the fans psychological connection were strong they would be more willing to kill or injure the opposing team. This is very fascinating data to consider when looking at how aggressive fans get when it comes to sports. This shows that fans will go to great lengths to give their team a completive advantage. An example of this would be the racism that many fans shout from the stands at soccer games. Many spectators think, “Racist speech is often seen as nothing more than a harmless windup, a way to gain a competitive advantage.”(Bickerstaff, 2014, p. 27). This leads us back to the study done by Daniel Wann saying that fans psychological connection will do anything for their team as long it helps them win. The result is extreme racism in Europe when it comes to soccer. Another aspect that plays a major role in fans being racist is the Mob Mentality. The mob mentality can be very dangerous thing because “When people are part of a group, they often experience deindividuation, or a loss of self-awareness. When people deindividuate, they are less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions and more likely to lose their sense of individual identity. Groups can generate a sense of emotional excitement, which can lead to the provocation of behaviors that a person would not typically engage in if alone.”(Avant, 2011, p. 17). Many people often think that actions that are normally not acceptable when alone are suddenly acceptable in a group. This is because there tends to be diffusion of responsibility when it comes to large groups. This is important factor because if people feel like the bad behavior cannot be traced back to them they are more likely to break social norms. This again is very prevalent in European soccer when it comes to racism. People who aren’t normally racist may take in part of the monkey chants that often take place during the soccer games because they are excited to be at the game and then they do something they would not normally do when they are on their own. The people who where being racist are also able to diffuse the blame and go home feeling like they had done nothing wrong. To counteract this soccer clubs, as punishment will play a match with out any fans so it is less likely that the mob effect will occur leading to an unsafe situation.

People often become fanatics when it comes to their favorite team. This can be explained by the social identity theory which states that people are often motivated to behave in ways maintain or boost their self-esteem. If a fan feels like he is important part of the team by buying jerseys,...

References: Avant, T. (2011). Examining the Mob Mentality. South Source, 3(2), 13-21. Retrieved April 7, 2014, from the One Search database.
Blickenstaff, B. (2014). At last, issue of racism demands sport 's attention. Sage, 7(3), 26-30. Retrieved April 7, 2014, from the One Search database.
Posten, M. (1998). Social Identity Theory: Sports Affiliation and Self-Esteem. Motivation and Emotion, 24(1), 107-112. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from the One search database.
Sports. (n.d.). Sports. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/15421/sports.aspx#2
Wann, D. (1999). Sport fan aggression and anonymity: The importance of team identification. Pro Quest, 27(6), 6-11. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from http://0-search.proquest.com.innopac.library.unr.edu/docview/209898392/citation?accountid=452
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