Can watching sports put you in time-out?

By Ashley Guidry

In honor of the big game this weekend, let’s answer the real questions sports fans are curious about.

Whether football, soccer, baseball, or hockey, nothing gets the blood pumping like good ol’ sports. Fans of all ages can relate to the euphoric feeling of game day, yet have any of us really stopped to wonder how watching sports affects us?

According to WebMD, studies have shown that sports fans have higher self-esteem than non-fans, but who is considered a fan? A fan eats, breathes, and drinks their favorite team. Maybe not in that order or intensity, but the passion for those they support is always consistent. Surprisingly, there are many social and mental benefits that come with being a fan.

Besides self-esteem, sports fans can experience eustress. Watching your team in action can develop dopamine and adrenaline in your body. This chemical combination becomes positive stress, or eustress. Escapism is another benefit for die-hard sports fans. Forgetting life’s daily stressors to root for your favorite player brightens your mood and reduces depression. It’s a form of entertainment to relax your mind and can bring your family closer if you all enjoy watching sports. Watching a team with your friends can build connections and a sense of belonging. Based on a UK study, one in two people say they socialize more when watching sports.

Although the benefits are ideal for any sports fanatic, there are downsides to your physical health. Days leading up to a big game are relatively normal in emergency rooms.  After the game is a different story. Although a community can be built amongst sports fans, it can also lead to violent acts between rival fans. Numerous riots have occurred from a sports team winning or losing championships, which can lead to unwanted hospital trips.

There are some cases where fans take losses too seriously and it negatively affects their mood. Rising blood pressure and heart rates doubling may also occur from the intense excitement fans feel. However, this issue may occur in individuals who experience cardiovascular disease prior to watching a game. But people with little to no health problems are less likely to experience such risks while watching sports.

A suggestion for sports fans who do experience cardiovascular disease is to take their meds and ask their doctor how much excitement their hearts can take. For fans watching a live game, be careful how much you drink and try not to overeat. It’s also important to focus on the fun aspect of sports than deal with unnecessary stress from a bad play.

So, now that we have a healthy game plan, let’s “break” and have fun this weekend!