Research reveals many benefits of being a devoted sports fan, no matter the outcome, expert says

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- While everyone wants their team to emerge victorious on Super Bowl Sunday, a mental health expert says the psychological lift from being a true sports fan makes you a winner no matter what the scoreboard says.

Marc Johnson of Cleveland doesn't know anyone at this year's Super Bowl, but he knows he's among friends.

"Been a sports fan all my life. This is my 25th Super Bowl. Feels like a connection. You've got a brother," Johnson said.

The bond can be seen at stadiums, sports bars, and even in people's living rooms.

"I love sports. I love football. I love soccer," said avid sports fan Dawn Richardson. "I feel like sports bring people together."

"It's more about the sense of belonging that it gives to belong to something bigger than yourself," said clinical psychologist Nicole Siegfried, PhD of Lightfully Behavioral Health.

Siegfried said yearning to belong is hardwired into humans. Research reveals many benefits of being a devoted sports fan, like having self-esteem, and experiencing joy from camaraderie despite the agony of defeat.

"Research shows that the benefits of the connection and belonging, sort of outweigh some of the ups and downs that may come with the disappointment of loss," Siegfried said. "Because even loss provides a group connection because we're all in this together."



"Hang out with your buddies and you all relate. You have, like, the same team," said Joseph Monzon.

Even watching the game alone, one still feels part of a larger community. It's probably why so many people watch with their phones so they can be on social media. But there has also been violence as a result of team rivalries. So to enjoy the benefits of being a sports fan, experts say, you have to have balance.

"Anything that is taken to the extreme can be unhealthy," Siegfried said.

Rams or Bengals, Johnson feels victory either way and said, "I'll be a winner because I'm here. I'm alive. Well, I got my health. And this is my 25th Super Bowl."

It's a win-win no matter what.
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