'Super fan' moods affected by favorite team's wins, losses

Published: Oct. 25, 2013 at 9:42 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2013 at 10:57 PM CDT
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Van Pelt says it isn’t uncommon for sports fans to get a sense of identity from their team.
Van Pelt says it isn’t uncommon for sports fans to get a sense of identity from their team.

TIPTONVILLE, TN (KFVS) - Sports fans often feel a strong sense of connection to their favorite teams.

Psychologists say some fans' moods and even their mental well-being can be affected by the final score. Psychologists call it the "social identity theory." According to the theory, fans get so attached to their teams that their self-confidence, mood and mental health changes with the team's record.

"Our identities and our self-esteem to a certain degree is tied to a team that we associate with," said Dr. David Van Pelt with Applied Psychological Center.

Van Pelt said it isn't uncommon for sports fans to get a sense of identity from their team, thus feeling happy with the team's success and sad with loss.

"A win is a pat on the back, it enhances the self-esteem," Van Pelt said. "It allows us to walk a little bit taller and carry a brighter day. Unfortunately a loss sort of does the same thing. It has the same effect. It diminishes that self-esteem."

Van Pelt said there is no harm in backing a team, but cautions people not to let it get out-of-hand.

"Keep it in mind that it's a game," Van Pelt said. "It's important for a game's purpose but in the larger scheme of things how I root at home doesn't have any effect on them. Whether they win or lose doesn't affect the fact that I have to get up and go to work on Monday."

Members of the Bargery family of Tiptonville, Tenn. are self-proclaimed "Cardinals fanatics." Scott Bargery said he's always been a part of Cardinal Nation.

"It's like a family," Bargery said. "It's part of your family."

Scott Bargery's twin brother, Steven, said he feels a sense of identity each time his teams play.

"You start using the term 'we,' you know, our team, or 'we went up there and messed up in game one, but we came back and go them in game two,' so you feel a sense of pride when they do something good," Steven Bargery said.

The Cardinal's loss Wednesday night had the Bargery brothers and their father, Glen, feeling gloomy.

"There were some heated moments at the TV, I'm not going to lie. It was very, very frustrating," Scott Bargery said.

"You're part of the team as well, and when they lose, you feel their pain," Steven Bargery said.

"You sulk around until game time; which thankfully, brought the happiness back," Scott Bargery said.

Bargery said, of course, he'll get by either way, but a World Series win would make the winter just a little warmer.

"It definitely carries you through to the next season, especially during the cold months of winter, if your football team is not any good," Scott Bargery said.

Dr. Van Pelt said getting some sense of identity from your favorite team is okay. However, he said people who feel depressed or anxious for weeks after their teams loses, may want to consider seeing a mental health professional.

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