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The Emotional Effect of Results

How research says team wins and losses affect fans both emotionally and physically.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

We do it every week. We make our way to the Purple Palace, or tune in to watch the Lions play on the road. Last season, that meant a lot of heartache. So far though, this season is setting me on fire with a record of 1-1-2. After last weekend’s win on the road against the New York Red Bulls (yes, I know you already knew which win, it’s just too fun to type), I feel unlike myself. I’m typically pretty cynical, anxious, and overwhelmed, but not this week.

This is my busiest time of year, with yearbook deadlines, library inventory, state testing, and end-of-year preparations and I’m usually a ball of tears and yelling, but this week I’m just bopping along, checking things off my to-do lists.

I didn’t think an OCSC win could be the reason for my positive outlook until my husband mentioned his mood. He’s a fabulous teacher but his classroom is always a bit of a mess, as one will tend to be with 45 10- and 11-year-olds. I had lunch with him on Tuesday and couldn’t believe how perfect his classroom looked. I don’t mean perfect “for him” but perfect in general. It had that first-day-of-school sheen. He claimed it was the Orlando City win that had him in such a perfect mood.

When I came back downstairs, teachers kept commenting on how clean the library looked. My desk, usually piled high with various stacks of books waiting to be sorted on the cart, was empty. My office, usually a mess with art supplies, props, and costumes from our Odyssey of the Mind team was completely organized. Without even noticing, I had been twice as productive, staying late without complaining, and in a generally good mood. Is there something to that?

I needed to see if there was in fact something to this, so I started researching. Edward R. Hirt, Ph.D., from Indiana University calls it BIRGing — basking in reflected glory. This is where sometimes we piggy back on the success of others for a needed self-esteem boost. Hirt continues about how sporting events for fans are an emotional outlet, which is funny to me because I’ve talked about this in another post before! Furthermore, a clinical psychologist, Dr. Richard Shuster, shared that when our favorite teams are winning, the brain releases dopamine and adrenaline, both of which have a direct link to our moods and actions.

When our favorite teams are losing however, the brain produces cortisol, the stress hormone. You might find yourself sweating and full of anxiety when your team is down or keeps making crazy mistakes, as a physical response to anxiety and stress. High levels of cortisol over a long period of time can lead to various health issues such as disrupted sleep patterns, weight gain, infections, and more. So, I guess that totally explains my 2018!

What was it in last week’s game that had this glorious effect on us? Could it have been Brian Rowe’s clean sheet? Or maybe it was Robin Jansson’s calm and cool debut along with Alex De John (before going out with a hamstring injury in the 65th minute) and Shane O’Neill’s performance on the back line? It could have been any of those or Sacha Kljestan’s goal, Carlos Ascues’ bicycle clearance off the line, João Moutinho’s assist, Uri’s fire performance in the midfield, or so many other things?

It was likely a combination of everything wonderful that led to OCSC taking down the New York Red Bulls. Let’s reminisce a bit before Sunday’s match against D.C. United. Tell us about your happy moments from last weekend’s match, one that stood out to you among everything else.

Did you have an extra positive week after the Lions beat the Red Bulls (had to)? Tell us about your week and if the 1-0 win influenced your mood or attitude toward your daily activities below. I’m reading the comments and looking for a continued morale boost ahead of this weekend, so let’s do it!