More Than a Game: Why Rooting for a Sports Team Is Healthy for You

COVID-19 has left many people without their favorite pastime: watching sports. Fans around the world are unable to attend live events, and some sports still aren’t available to watch live on TV. There’s a reason people feel such a void without sports! 

Rooting for a sports team is an extremely worthwhile activity – it’s great for family bonding! I grew up watching the New York Rangers with my family and made some of my favorite memories at games, on road trips, and while watching hockey games on TV. Sports are so entertaining for people of all ages because each game is different. They create an unrivaled excitement and atmosphere. 

Watching sports can also teach you a lot. The passion one develops while rooting for a team can be applied to all aspects of life. Athletes demonstrate great skills like competitive drive, sportsmanship, teamwork, persistence, and achieving their goals – the list goes on forever. 

Being a sports fan is also a great conversation starter! You can easily befriend strangers while wearing your favorite teams’ gear on the street or have deep conversations with close friends. Watching a game — live or on TV — is always a fun way to socialize! 

Cheering for a team also gives you a built-in community. Even though you may not know most people in that community, you’ll still have a connection with them, whether or not you watch together.

In addition to strengthening relationships with friends and family, rooting for a team also increases your awareness of your identity. By being a fan of a particular team (or teams), you build traditions and connections with your hometown, state, school, or alma mater. Whether you’re rooting for a high school, college, or state team, you’re showing pride for your roots. Many people also cheer for specific athletes they identify with, whether that’s athletes of the same ethnicity, age, or gender as them, or players from the same country, college, or hometown. You can root for whoever you want, and that also has a positive effect on your sense of identity. 

Being a sports fan is also very advantageous for your mental health. According to one study, "people who identify themselves as sports fans tend to have lower rates of depression and higher self-esteem than those who don’t." 

Rooting for a team provides you with an automatic sense of comradery. And, of course, social interactions with others are good for your psychological health. Cheering and socializing with others during a game is also a great way to destress. It’s common for people to yell out in anger or frustration while watching a game, which lowers overall stress levels. 

Not only does being a sports fan help keep you mentally healthy, but it can also improve your physical health. According to Shape, “the average 150-pound woman burns more than 100 calories per hour attending a live sporting event, and the benefits are also seen when you’re just watching the game at home. Next time you want a fun workout, skip the gym – watch a sports game instead! 

Being a fan can also inspire you to exercise or work out to be more like your favorite player. Watching what professional athletes can do is amazing and beyond inspirational. Many times, children become interested in playing a sport after watching it. The same effect can also be seen in teens and adults. 

While one might think that these benefits are contingent on how well your favorite team is performing, you’ll actually benefit whether your team wins or loses.  

Clearly, being a sports fan is underrated! Next time your favorite team plays, take advantage of it: socialize, cheer, eat, and yell with friends, family, or strangers!