Why do we jump to the ceiling and scream at the top of our lungs when our team scores a goal? What makes the most polite of us to insult the referee with such bad faith? Whether you are a loyal supporter or a simple “footix”, it seems that the king of sports easily makes us lose our minds.
It must be said that in terms of suspense, football is generous: the nature of the goal, much more rare and crucial than a basket in basketball, and often more sudden than a test in rugby, makes the result more uncertain. Not to mention the virtual absence of downtime this maintains the pressure permanently. A focus on the psychology of sports fans comes useful here.
What echo does this suspense find in the organism of a football fan? Brain, which perceives the possible defeat of his team as a danger, sends a warning to the adrenal glands in every hot situation, which in response produces stress hormones, including adrenaline, explains, a specialist in stress. By whipping the heart, it is the latter that generates these palpitations, a feeling of breathlessness or a lump in the stomach. Psychologists even call it eustress, a mixture of euphoria and highly addictive stress.
But does this stress justify that the wisest fan spends his evening swearing against the referee, despite all common sense? Obviously no, this is a “cognitive bias” well known to specialists in fan psychology. The supporter sees the game as he wants. That it is, and not as it is. Anything that goes against his intuition is swept away. The factual no longer matters and Thierry Henry’s hand against Eire in 2009 either.
A Psychological Trap
In the same vein, explains the psychologist, a supporter arbitrarily starts to “hate” the supporters of the opposite camp during a meeting, even though there is nothing closer, in terms of values and lifestyle, that two groups of supporters. Another trap that the fan easily falls into believing that his behavior zapping, going to the bathroom influences the game.
A superstition theorized in the middle of the last century when he noticed during an experiment that the pigeons that he fed automatically every fifteen seconds interpreted this food as the reward for behavior, attitude that they, therefore, reproduced when they did not need it. From there to say that the supporters are pigeons.
Already deeply affected by all these psychological biases, our fan can become downright unrecognizable if his team scores a goal. Jumps, screams, aggressive gestures, he is caught up in a cascade release of the neurotransmitters of reward and happiness, and an outpouring of joy extremely violent and contagious for his environment.
A Sometimes Dangerous Cocktail
In moments of absolute frenzy, the fan no longer sees himself as responsible for his personal behavior. Does the final whistle mean a return to normal? All these emotions leave traces for several hours, even several days. In 1998, an American study even showed that the testosterone level could take off by 20% in men if their favorite team won. The reverse is unfortunately true: if the Blues are wrong, you will, therefore, have the right to grumble the following days, science says it.