The Psychological Toll Of A Sports Loss

Feb 8, 2017

Fans of the Atlanta Falcons are slowly working past a crushing defeat in the Super Bowl. The team gave up a 25 point lead and squandered away a game that was well in hand for the first three quarters.  

As the Falcons returned back to Atlanta on Monday, many fans took to the airwaves on sports radio shows to voice their disappointment. But psychology experts say if you hold on to negative emotions too long it could end up hurting you physically. 

Researchers from the INSEAD business school found that dietary problems and heart related illnesses rose significantly in cities dealing with a major sports loss.  

In one study, the number of heart attacks rose by 20 percent in Boston after a particularly harrowing loss to the New York Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl.  

Dr. Seth Norrholm of the Emory School of Medicine says a little anger can be helpful for heartbroken fans. Throwing a remote, punching a pillow, or yelling at your flat screen can help you get over the initial burst of anger and move past the disappointment.  

Norrholm says Falcon's fans can learn a thing or two from supporters of the Buffalo Bills. The Bills went to four straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993 and lost every single game.