With the return of fans being back in the stands at Gonzaga University games, there are many things that Zag fans should be excited about.
The first of these benefits is the escapism of live sports. One qualitative study of fans, published by Global Health Research and Policy, showed that in 2018, fans who attended an English football team's games served as a temporary escape from daily life and helped reduce stress.
The same study showed that at Japanese professional soccer games, spectators had a psychological connection with their hometown team which led to a bigger connection between the athletes and the community. This also supported their perceptions of social support as well as social cohesion in their communities.
These types of collective evidence suggest that attending live sporting events may produce psychosocial benefits as well. These benefits may, in turn, help produce healthy practices while also reducing the negative health consequences of stress and adversity.
“I think the best part is just being back and seeing everyone,” said Eduardo Escalera, a senior at GU. “It feels good to be in a social environment again.”
Research has shown that the activity spent at a game can have physical health benefits. Daniel L. Wann, a psychology professor at Murray State University in Kentucky and the author of “Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators,” found this to be the case in his research.
“Indeed, the stereotype that sports fans are overweight, beer-drinking couch potatoes is inaccurate,” Wann said in an interview with CNN. “Sports fans are quite active physically, politically and socially.”
Live sporting events are also a good place to start networking or to bring a coworker to have a good time. It allows for friends to have a good time not only with sports, but also with food, beverages and entertainment all in one place.
Lastly, watching sports can improve communication and organizational skills. According to a 2008 study from the University of Chicago, scientists and researchers discovered that watching a sporting event is a workout for your brain.
In the study, a dozen pro and college-level hockey players, eight hockey fans and nine people who had never seen or played a sport were tasked to watch a hockey game while a machine Electroencephalogram recorded their brain functions.
Afterward, the participants were each given a test to analyze their brain comprehension. The results showed that athletes and sports fans experienced brain activity in the motor areas associated with performing and controlling. This study suggests that spectator sports can help with the absorption of information.
For athletes, there are many advantages for fans being back in the stands. Friendly trash talk and banter between players and fans has become a tradition in college and professional sports. The idea of a team having “home-field advantage” due to its loud and rowdy fans can affect the away team’s communication on the court or field.
Athletes can be motivated by the excitement and participation of the audience and will therefore perform with heightened awareness.
“I know last year was hard for some teams because there were no fans, so the athletes couldn't feed off their energy at home,” said GU sophomore Max Koi-Ya. “I think fans bring a lot of energy and excitement and it helps their teams win."