How Being a Fan of Soccer Can Benefit Your Health
Apr 11, 2017 - 11:23:08 AM
Supporting soccer can improve your health in a variety of ways, particularly when it comes to mental health and happiness. According to sports psychology professor of Murray State University Daniel Wann, this is due to two important factors. Firstly, we are happy when the teams we support are successful, and secondly, we tend to identify with the team members themselves.
Ultimately, Wann believes it is due to the sense of community that soccer fandom creates that truly makes us happier and healthier. Whether you are cheering on your team at matches, chatting with other fans at the bar or wagering on your team's success at sites like Sportsbet (click here if interested) there is an undeniable sense of community.
“The simple fact is that people are looking for ways to identify with something, to feel a sense of belonging-ness with a group of like-minded individuals,” Wann told The Huffington Post in early 2015. “Think of, in your own life, what you care about and what you identify with. Sport is what these fans have chosen.”
For many years now, it has been well documented that a sense of community is incredibly important as it helps us feel connected when we affiliate with like-minded individuals. When you are part of a group supporting a soccer team you are surrounded by comrades, even those you have never met in person or those you will never meet again once you leave the stadium. You even have your own specific language when supporting a soccer team, which further cements your connection to those around you; this, in turn, relieves any feelings of seclusion or loneliness.
Over in the UK, Nottingham University’s Professor Alan Pringle has even found that soccer connects family members unlike any other subject. In his studies, Pringle has concluded that while grandparents are not interested in their grandchildren’s computer games, they can connect through the language and emotion associated with soccer.
Interestingly, Pringle also believes that in societies where men feel the need to suppress emotions soccer gives them an outlet. “For many of them, football offers a safe space where expressed emotion is acceptable (even crying or hugging other men!),” Pringle wrote in an email to Huff Post.
Although this may seem obvious, the psychological benefits of experiencing success cannot be understated. Ronald F. Levant, a psychology professor at the University of Akron, even believes it to be one of the most precious emotions there is, especially during challenging times.
“Identifying with your sports teams is one of the ways you can vicariously experience success, and in real life, success is hard,” Levant told Canton Rep in 2010. “We have ups and downs, a lot of things don’t always go our way ... especially in this economy.”
In fact, this feeling of vicarious success is so crucial that English hospitals in Nottingham have even started financially supporting soccer leagues for young men with depression, drug issues and other mental illnesses. For many of them, soccer may be the only place that these young men can truly experience success when they live such difficult lives.
So, next time anyone makes a dig at you for enjoying soccer, make sure you let them know that you are part of a community and they’ve got your back.