Saturday, August 31, 2013

Team Loss = Weight Gain?

I read an article on the Huffington Post earlier in the week about bulging waistlines when it came to sports. I was like "What?" and it got me thinking about a whole bunch of things. Are we really that invested in a team or in players that we get depressed and stress-eat way too easily? Here we go...

Close your eyes. No. That's a bad idea--you wouldn't be able to read this.
Imagine. There. That's better.

Your favorite team is doing extremely well in a game against the rival team. However, the rival team comes back and your favorite team chokes and eventually loses the game in a horrible fashion. Your life seems to be in shambles because you had so much faith in your team. You're sad. How do you handle this?

Some people might not go through this often, while others may experience the hurt and pain all of the time. Being a faithful fan has perks, but when you live and die with a team, you not only share in their successes but share in their sorrows as well. I remember writing a long time ago how being a fan of particular sports teams can be compared to being in an abusive relationship. When one goes through a bad breakup, one handles it in different ways, such as moping, excessive crying, compulsive shopping, or taking in exorbitant amounts of food and drinks (usually alcohol). When a major game is coming up, one gets mentally ready for the date with destiny. If it ends terribly, the emotional soul could be wrecked and one may need to fill the empty space with some sort of temporary happiness.

You can read the article right here.
After reading the article, I disagreed with the statement. Firstly, the study was rather small-scale and only covered NFL fans. As I had said on Twitter earlier this week, it wasn't representative of the whole sports-spectating population. Some of the survey questions that were mentioned in the article made me laugh because the choices were so polarizing (chips/candy or grapes/tomatoes). Because of the study conducted, I had no choice but to challenge the findings and argue from the other side. However, there were a few good observations made in the article, and I'll lay them out for you here.

First, we can admit that they have a lot of common sense working in their favor to begin with.
The main argument working for this article is that the study only involved American football fans. Their reasoning and findings may prove true since teams only play once a week, and there are often times where friends go over to friends' houses or families get together to watch the game. Not just that, but people also make their ways to bars and restaurants on Sundays to watch the game. If the team isn't doing well, or if there's enough people in the area to socialize with, mindless social eating and drinking can occur. That makes total sense, right?

The second argument isn't mentioned in the Huff Post article, but based on my own experiences, this other argument can fit in quite nicely with the findings of the study.
Those who are die-hard fans of football and baseball may take part in fantasy leagues. While some of these leagues may be for fun, some of them have money involved in the process. I'm pretty sure that anybody would be upset if they were out on cash if their teams or particular players from teams weren't playing so well. Fantasy leagues (which is something I'd like to write about someday) get the fan up-close and personal with running a team and becoming as knowledgeable about stats and team building as possible. When it falls flat and you run out of cash and hope, bad things could definitely happen.
I've also seen and heard about fantasy drafts that are held at parties and is treated like some sort of competitive holiday. If look at the argument before this, mindless social eating/drinking isn't gauged; for instance, think of the way you eat at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It works like that.

Those things I can understand by the article; however, there's always another side to a story and always a counterargument to a theory.

What if some of the fans investigated are athletes as well? I know it seems like I'm digging for counterarguments, but there are people out there who enjoy sports and are in a decent amount of shape. I've stated before that I am a Phillies fan. They've been doing pretty poorly this year, and I don't really find myself overeating because of how badly they've been playing. Also, I don't think I did any overeating when I got my rear end handed to me week after week in that random 20-team fantasy football league that I did last year with Andrew. That was horrible. Anyway, there are people out there that have other outlets than eating. Mine just happened to involve lifting a lot of weights. I know a Steelers fan that isn't a compulsive eater when they get totally embarrassed. I also know a lot of Cubs fans that find other ways to exert anger and depression after continuing their losing streak year after year. Regardless of sport, not everyone has the easiest of access to junk food when their team loses.

The second counterargument I have is this: sporting events are social events--everyone is going to be eating in some way. Plus, it's rather obvious that the study conducted doesn't really help the cause of alleviating the struggles of the expanding waistline in the United States. It's nothing new when news outlets say "there's a new study out" that the United States has a massive problem when it comes to heart disease, diabetes, and other physical health ailments that stem from obesity. More people are overweight in the US than in most "first-world countries" combined, and the eating/drinking lifestyle proves that. Also, the amount of physical activity is relatively low. Most people work at sedentary jobs, and other don't "find the time" to exercise or have the ability to make healthier choices. Our genes don't necessarily work well in our favor, either. Just think: there are people in England and other European countries that treat soccer like a religion and things can get extremely ugly when a team loses. A lot of drinking can be involved at times. However, they're not as heavy-set as we are, right?

This is a rather interesting study conducted, and I had enjoyed reading the article. It also gave me a good reason to write about an ongoing major issue that people in the United States are trying to fight. While it was a small study, it brings spectator lifestyles into light, and maybe it's a reality check to some people. To be honest, I never thought that sporting events could make me eat more if my team lost. I have some good willpower, but nothing is impossible.

Do you find yourself gaining a little weight or adopting other rotten habits because of the woes of your favorite team?