Sports Fanaticism

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Writer Adam Thibodeau watches the Rockets on ESPN.

It’s a normal Sunday afternoon at the Millers, in Steep Falls, Maine. Lots of yelling, and football.

The volume is never a result of family tension, but an atmosphere of extreme fandom. Mr. Miller will stand up and if the team does well if he’s standing, he will blame his sitting down for previous team failure.

It is not unusual when Miller’s favorite team, the New England Patriots, make a mistake to hear a lot of yelling and criticism. When asked why he gets “so heated”, he responds ”I have no idea my brain shuts off.”

Miller has loved the New England Patriots ever since his Uncle Jean brought him to a game. Miller, who loves all New England sports teams, said his favorite sports memory when the Boston Red Sox won their first world series in 86 years, saying “My dad was with me this is before he died, so I got to share that with him.” Miller is a classic sports fan, sharing family memories and connections. There are many teens at TA who will likely be sitting in a similar Lazy-Boy on game days watching from their living room, but in high school teens also have a chance to bring their team spirit straight to the game.

Thornton Academy has a big sports community. Senior Noah Dewitt’s favorite part of the Trojan experience is, “the atmosphere and my friends, I love how loud it gets. I love the hype.”

The fan section has a system for choosing new people to lead every year. “Each year previous seniors elect new captains for the fan section, We send tweets out on the TA fan section page we encourage our peers to attend, and it’s all in the name of school spirit. This years captains are myself, TJ Pike, John Fogg, and Nate Rutherford. Our goal is to act like the twelfth man,” explained senior Ben McCarthy. School spirit is a large part of the Trojan sports community, from rally’s to barbeques in the parking lots before games.

Many student’s favorite high school memories revolve around their sport’s team’s big wins.  “My favorite sports moment had to be the girls basketball team ending McAuley’s streak and charging the court, I was like a freshmen. It was just one of the biggest moments of my high school days,” said Dewitt. Trojan fans love to enjoy moments like these, memories that could last a lifetime.

According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll 63% of Americans call themselves sports fans. “Men and younger Americans are the groups most likely to be sports fans. Three in four men describe themselves as sports fans, while just half of women are fans. Seventy-two percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are sports fans. This compares with 64% of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 58% of those aged 50 and older.”

People at times see sports teams as an extension of themselves. Social psychologist have identified two patterns of behavior associated with a team’s performance. According to an article in Psychology Today Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D, “Birging” or “Basking In Reflected Glory”, is “When your team is doing well, you feel great.” Essentially, a fan will feel good because their favorite teams are succeeding. Following a big win a true fan could feel they are having a good day just because their team got the win last night.

On the contrary, “CORFing, means that you, Cut Off Reflected Failure. Your team was trounced and now you want to distance yourself from them and their disgrace as much as possible. “ Following a loss, some fans may feel they are having a bad day, just because of a failure on the part of their favorite team.

According to a psychology professor from Murray State University Daniel Wann, “the extent to which a sports fan feels a psychological connection to a team and the team’s performances are viewed as self-relevant.” Fans like to see their teams succeed, and love to root for teams that win.

People take the game so seriously. This plays a part in why you see rioting and aggression towards the opposing team during the game and after an outcome. People sometimes feel the game reflects them as a person.

People identify themselves with teams. Certain cultures in history have taken sports fanaticism to the next level of rioting. In 2011, the Boston Bruins hockey team beat the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. In Latin American countries, such as Argentina, soccer players have been killed in riots after games. In 2008, after a soccer game in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, riots happened because of ongoing witch hunts. An accusation in the game accusing one of  the teams of using witchcraft during the game started a riot and people were killed.

Sports can also have positive effects and creating a feeling of peace and satisfaction as well. “Sports bring my family together because we watch baseball and football. We go to games all the time,” said senior Shea Clemens Boston teams, New England teams. Her whole family gets together for every Super bowl.  

“I think sports are good for society for a variety of reasons, they bring people and communities together and gives you an opportunity to get lost in something other than your day to day life. For me and my family, it’s always been a large part of our way of life,” said Ms. Lasante who teaches sports literature at TA.

Many Americans and people of the world have sports playing a part in their everyday lives. Some people are fans, and some are athletes themselves. Some people don’t understand the craze, but for others the adrenaline and drama draws them in like a good tv series. Sports are a place where some make memories that last and bring back happy memories, or disaster strikes after a loss, where tears and rioting ensues.

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