As we prepare for yet another season of Knicks basketball, it is only natural for the longtime fan to start building up the old coping mechanisms for the inevitable losses to come. My personal favorite is, “At least we have our first-round pick this year!”
Sports fandom does weird things to the human brain, which led SB Nation director (and Knicks fan) Michael Imhoff to seek out Murray State professor Daniel Wann for this helpful video on the psychology behind the attachment we feel toward our favorite teams.
How does it make any sense to invest so much effort into a competition, in which one side is bound to end up disappointed? Professor Wann explains:
I think that that’s the great mystery of sports fandom. If you bought a delivery pizza, say, 10 times, and five times it came late, cold and the wrong pizza, you would never go back. Sports fans are different. You can’t stop; it’s who you are.
Carrying this analogy over to the Knicks, the pizza would come late, cold and smeared with dog dookie six times, and the seventh time you’d end up with a JD and the Straight Shot CD slathered in pizza sauce.
Attachment to your local team brings a sense of community, according to Professor Wann. I always find this interesting as a New York sports fan, since that community is fractured — there are two New York teams in every sport, so there are always a healthy portion of your neighbors who despise your team.
A study done at Florida State suggests most fans link to their team by age 7 or 8 so I still have time to turn my cats into Knicks fans!
Apparently psychologists have been proven that the pain of losing trumps the joy of winning. That’s rough. Sports are insane. I’m insane. You, dear reader, are most likely insane.