The soccer World Cup is an event like no other. The levels of emotional attachment, dedication and tribalism eclipse even that of the Olympic Games — and that’s just amongst the fans.
Already at this 2018 World Cup in Russia, television cameras have shown nails being bitten, tears of despair, mirrored by those of celebration and countless screams of encouragement as fans will their teams to victory.
The players who take to the the field have long since called upon supporters in stadiums to be “the 12th man,” to inspire them toward higher levels of performance when it’s really needed. However, that doesn’t stop millions all around the world that are not so fortunate to be in the stands, from yelling at TV screens wherever they may be.
According to research by psychologist Susan Whitbourne, the more passionate a supporter you are, the more stress you’ll take on during a match, no matter where a person watches it. However, that passion means that if your team wins, you get the bigger testosterone boost with the result.
Watching games on television can be even more difficult for fans hoping it’s their side that wins.
“The larger image and sound heightens the reality for the viewer which puts you more in the center of the action. As a result, you feel as though you’re on the field. However, as a fan in the stadium, you would not have such a close-up view,” she told CNBC via email.
Whitbourne goes on to add: “As a result, the intensity of the experience increases, heightening your emotional responses — both positive and negative. There will also be the stress of feeling that you wish you could have an impact on the action when it’s not going your way.”
Some might ask why do supporters of national teams put themselves through it all. Is it even worth caring so much?