Get Your Bloodlust Heeeere!

penn state stadium

We all know this place. It’s where we revel in victory or wallow in defeat. We know it as a football pitch, a stadium, an arena, a field. But it’s the same venue.

It’s the amphitheatre.

Direct from the past:


Some people dismiss such similarities, because thankfully we don’t go out of our way to kill people for sport any longer. But the net result on the crowd is suspiciously similar:

cheering fans

I read a very interesting article by Larry Stone for the Seattle Times following the Seahawks Superbowl win. Some take-aways for me were:

The phrase “cathartic healing” is a fancy way of saying that rooting for your favorite team makes you feel better about your life.

When people identify with a team, they form bonds outside their ‘normal’ life – with the team and other fans. They become part of ‘something larger.’

…studies show that rabid sports fans have higher self-esteem and are less depressed, less alienated and less lonely.

Which is pretty cool. You can have higher self-esteem just from becoming a better fan. Going through the article, I wondered what the male/female ratio was in the participants of these studies. Many of the women in my family see little sense in the fan-antics of their male partners. This not only justifies, but gives some well-deserved ammunition to the sports-fan camp.

A famous study by Paul Bernhardt at Georgia State University in 1998 showed that male spectators of sporting events experience the same testosterone surges as the players themselves — an increase of about 20 percent by fans of winning teams, and a similar decrease in losing fans.

To me, this is a clear parallel with why gladiator fights and other similar ancient forms of entertainment were so popular. They had all the same aspects of sports fanaticism today, plus the additional adrenaline boost of real life-death scenarios. In the ancient world, were death was always present and frighteningly unpredictable, there must have been a certain psychological satisfaction at seeing someone such as a gladiator overcome potential death at the hands of opponent. (Yes, I know – I’m not a real psychologist. But I would put good money on it!)

Any first-hand fanatics out there? Do you agree with what the good doctors are finding out?

Image of Penn State by pennstatenews (CC)

Image of Colosseum by liknes (CC)

Image of fans by Tulane Public Relations (CC)

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