There are lots of reasons to be miserable. Your political views (doesn’t matter what side you’re on; you’re miserable), debt that seems never ending, that person you love thinking of you as a friend, car trouble, disappointing kids and so on.
One thing that shouldn’t make us miserable is games that we, normally, don’t even participate in. Most of you have a favorite team of some kind, whether it’s a professional team, a college team or even just the high school you attended.
And when that team loses, even if you are used to them losing, man, it hurts. You stand, or sit, slack jawed, having a hard time believing they blew it in such a fashion. And whether the score was 35-34 or 45-10, they blew it. They weren’t the worse team. They blew it because somehow they found out about you and decided to make sure your day was ruined.
And the weird thing is, when they win, it doesn’t feel as good as it feels bad when they lose. A win lets you pump your fist as a victor and you enjoy the post game shows as the hosts and former athletes make excuses for the losing team (those jerks just can’t give your team credit), but by the next day whatever you were feeling is gone. There’s a little afterglow, but eh.
Not when they lose. You carry that until the next game, reliving every miserable play until you they play again and you’re more than likely to get wildly disappointed again. Why is that?
Well, some British researchers at the University of Sussex studied 32,000 fans of soccer teams using an app that a few times a day asked them how happy they were on a scale of 1-100. The researchers took into count such things as whether it was the weekend, if the fans were at work, if the weather was nice or bad, but the biggest swing in happiness, up and down, occurred when they watched their favorite team play.
I know what you’re thinking. Soccer!!! Couldn’t they have done this in America and used a real sport like football or….football? Why use a game where you kick a ball around a field, trying to get it into a net the size of a two car garage and after 90 minutes the score is 0-0? WHAT. IS. THE. POINT?
Sorry. Showing my age there. Soccer, you know, has been the next big thing in America since 1972. Just you wait. And waiting is something soccer fans are very good at.
Anyway, the study showed that while there was a spike in happiness when their teams won, when they lost, the loss of happiness was twice as large as the happiness gained. The conclusion of the study was that sports is ruining life. Granted, it’s mainly male lives that are being ruined, but there are women who follow sports and they are made just as depressed when ABNE (Any Body But New England) fails to win the Super Bowl (thanks a lot Atlanta Falcons of February 2017!).
Any sports fan can tell you how much more a loss hurts than a win feels good. For whatever reason, when I was a kid many, many, MANY decades ago, there weren’t any pro football teams around here and I navigated northward to the Minnesota Vikings. In the 40 plus years since, I have either entered December/January with feelings of soon to be crushed hope or a mild but persistent depression that’s had me in its grip since a 2-4 start.
I have learned that a big win is very fleeting because it changes nothing in my life. I still have to get up the next morning, still have to go to work, still have to be disappointed I didn’t morph into a Hollywood style good looking guy overnight.
But when they lose, I get that loss on top of all that stuff. And it makes an unfair life (though my life hasn’t been unfair) seem like it’s piling up on me.
But, as the study says, soccer and football fans (yes, I know soccer is called football in the rest of the world) have one thing in common. When the next games rolls around we start getting excited again, put on our team shirts and just know this is gonna be the one that all our (because we ARE part of the team) dreams come true.
After all, if they win, everything will be completely perfect!