The Thrill of Being a Sports Fan. - The Rugby Observer

The Thrill of Being a Sports Fan.

Rugby Editorial 20th Mar, 2024   0

The global sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that witnesses rapid growth year after year. It consists of several sub-markets that are complementary to one another.

Sports is the foremost pastime of millions of people across the globe. A study by shows that 68% of the world’s population watches sports on TV or on online platforms.

At the heart of this ever-growing sports industry is the enthusiasm of the sports fans.

The sports industry earns billions of dollars in revenue because of the passion people have as fans. People pay for:

  • Match tickets
  • Team merchandise from banners to mugs.
  •  Jerseys, baseball caps etc.

There are many reasons behind the immense popularity and craze of sports fans. What is the psychology behind our massive enthusiasm for our favorite sports teams and athletes?

Being a Sports Fan is…

“There are two times of year for me: Football season and waiting for football season.”

This quote by American singer/songwriter Darius Rucker, pretty much sums up the sentiments of the fans of every sport.There are many ways in which sports fans express their love and admiration for their favourite teams and athletes. Fans buy match tickets to witness their favourite teams perform on the field.

In addition to that, fans also invest in merchandise related to their favourite team or athlete. For instance, football fans love to get their hands on the jersey of their favourite players.

The nature of some sports makes betting a key part of fan engagement. Horse racing betting, for instance, dates back as far as the 17th century in the US.

With the emergence of social media, fans have the chance to follow and engage with their favorite teams online. Social media also helps fans keep tabs on various fixtures in the calendar.

Sports based mobile apps are the new platform for fan engagement. All popular sports such as:

  •  Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • American Football

have official apps for their fans.

Virtual reality (VR) based games are another great way for fans to experience playing the sport they are passionate about.

Inside the Mind of a Sports Fan

If we look at the science at work behind the mind of a fan, it can be pretty interesting. Several studies show us that it’s all about mirror neurons and hormones.

The reason we feel involved when it comes to sports, is not as quite as simple as it seems.

Science tells us that it’s the reflection of our inner desire for connection and excitement. Being a part of a sports fandom allows us to feel the excitement of a win and connect with fellow fans.

When our number 1 team or athlete wins, we see that as a personal victory. This activates the release of dopamine or the “happy hormone” in our brains.

The mirror neurons in our brain make us “see” ourselves as the player on the field. Hence, our brain “believes” that we’re in fact, ourselves playing the game.

In such a scenario, a win activates the reward centre of our brain and gives us that sense of achievement. This results in the thrill that is unmatched and makes the fan come back for more.

The feeling of being a part of a larger community is another reason why being a fan makes us happy. It’s the thrill of cheering together, celebrating together, chanting and yelling together!

Sports allow fans to indulge in a healthy distraction from their monotonous everyday life and enjoy the action.

The sense of pride that comes with the victory of one’s favorite team can boost happiness.

In addition to that, the release of oxytocin makes the fan develop a connection with the team they’re rooting for. This imaginary bond results in the development of a parasocial relationship.

Connecting online with our favourite teams and players

Thanks to the many social media platforms, fans find it easier to stay connected with their idols and sports teams. The future is even more promising for the sports fan, in terms of experiences with VR bringing us closer to the action.

Does being a sports fan mean something significant in your life?

The emerging field of eSports and sports apps has revolutionized the way fans experience their favored sports. AI and other emerging technology are being used in a wide variety of ways.

Right from creating personalized experiences for fans to acquiring deeper insights, AI is helping personalize experiences. This means an even more thrilling time for sports fans lies ahead.

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