For hundreds of years, sporting events have had a profound impact on society. Whether you are watching a horse race, a football game in the up-coming world cup or a swim meet, there is a good chance that you have a rooting interest in the outcome of the event. Why is this?
The Social Identity Theory
There is a large body of scientific evidence that suggests that people feel better when they can associate their success with the success of others. Therefore, when the quarterback of your favorite team throws a touchdown pass, it almost feels as if you threw that touchdown pass. On the other hand, watching the quarterback of the other team throw a touchdown pass makes you feel like you are almost as much to blame as the defensive players on the field.
Everyone’s BIRGing After a Win
Basking in Reflective Glory (BIRG) is what scientists call the phenomenon of people wearing team gear after a victory regardless of when the team last won a game. For example, Cleveland Browns fans were ecstatic after a 3-2 start to the 2013 NFL season. Although the team was previously mired in mediocrity, it was important for the fans to be able to connect to and identify with something. The effects of BIRGing are even more profound at any college or university after the football team scores a big win or the soccer team wins its first national title. It is common to hear fans refer to the team as we after a win as if the fans had a role in securing the victory.
CORFing is Common After a Loss
Cutting off Reflective Failure (CORF) is seen after a team loses a game. CORFing is the act of distancing yourself from any association with the team after it fails to do well. The more diehard a fan is, the more likely it is that the fan will be seen CORFing after the game. Anything from booing the team during the game or publicly stating that you will no longer root for the team are both examples of CORFing. Other symptoms of CORFing include talking badly about opposing teams or using language such as they lost as opposed to we lost. However, most fans are likely to be back on the BIRGing bandwagon as soon as the team starts to play better or win a game or two.
Large Sporting Events Cost Companies Money
During the NCAA tournament, companies lose billions of dollars in productivity. This is because everyone is checking their brackets instead of checking their email accounts for important messages. The same may be true the morning after the Super Bowl as many people drink and stay up late on a Sunday when they usually would be asleep in preparation for work the next day. During the NFL regular season, it is common for employees to spend time checking their fantasy football lineups or keeping track of games in progress while working on a Thursday night or Sunday afternoon.
There is no doubt that sports has a deep and profound meaning on society. After your team wins, you feel jubilant and in a good mood for days. When your team loses, you could be upset for days. For those who don’t necessarily have a rooting interest in a particular team, big events such as March Madness as well as fantasy sports may provide you with reason enough to watch the games.