Ohio – When it comes to rooting for sports teams, getting caught up in the
emotion of the game is normal, but during big games, some fans can go too far
with obnoxious and emotionally unhealthy behavior. Sports fan have strong
allegiances to teams, and when “their” team loses, they often project that loss
a fan is fine, but there is a line you can cross that makes it really
unhealthy,” said Ken Yeager, PhD, a mental health
expert in the department of psychiatry at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“Sometimes the pressures and tensions of life get added onto the
emotions of games and then you have people overreacting.”
you are one of these sports fanatics, or know someone who is, Yeager says it’s
important to know the signs that you are getting too emotionally involved in a
game, so you can take steps to avoid any behavior you might regret.
like drinking alcohol, betting money on your favorite team to win and even who
you watch the game with can ratchet up your stress levels and have an impact on
your health,” said Yeager, who is clinical director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, which addresses
the effects of psychological trauma and stress on patients and families as well
as their impact on healthcare providers.
have shown that sports fans have both a psychological and a physical response
to what’s happening to their team during and after a game, said Yeager. What’s
happening on the field or the court can affect their cortisol and testosterone
levels, depending on the outcome of the game.
clues go all the way back to the ‘fight or flight’ survival mechanism,” said
Yeager, who also is a licensed social worker and has provided counseling
services to NFL football players for more than a decade. “So if you feel your heart begin to
palpitate, you begin to sweat a little bit, you feel your breaths are shallow
and racing; you’re getting a little too far into the game and a little too far
away from the pleasure.”
offers these tips:
- Don’t drink too much. Alcohol is a
depressant, and if things don’t go well, it can make you feel even more
agitated and upset. You can’t control the outcome of the game, but you can
control your intake of alcohol.
- Don’t bet on your team. Putting your hard-earned
money on the line increases emotional intensity and makes a loss more painful.
- Don't ignore the warning signs. Our
bodies give us very strong signals when we are getting emotionally agitated,
such as feeling nervous, sweating or feeling the need to lash out. If you
have these signs, particularly if you are in public or around others, take a
break. Remove yourself from the environment momentarily and calm down.
- Do control the volume of the TV. Overstimulation can
quickly increase agitation. If things aren’t going well, turn your TV down or
mute it. Reducing noise stimuli can calm you down and help divert your
- Do exercise on game day - Go to the gym before
the game and work out. Exercise reduces stress and can help you better
cope if things don’t go well for your team.
- Do surround yourself with good fans - If you are easily
tempted to overreact, avoid those who do, too. Watch the game with others who
share your interests but are more even minded and less temperamental.
very important to take care of one’s self and one’s emotion and one’s stress
level all the time. Not just during game days. But certainly if you're going to
a social outing about a game, make sure that your stress level is at the right
level,” said Yeager.
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Broadcast quality soundbites and b-roll are
available here: http://bit.ly/1gLySM9
A high quality photograph of Ken Yeager is
available here: http://go.osu.edu/agQ
Contact: Eileen Scahill, Wexner Medical
Center Public Affairs and Media Relations,
614-293-3737, or Eileen.Scahill@osumc.edu