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On Game Day, Sometimes Winning Isn't Everything
Date:2/1/2013

r to be glued to the edge of your seat.

If this weekend's Baltimore-San Francisco game is another nail-biter, viewers will again feel that nervous tension. Don Forsyth, a professor at the University of Richmond and an expert on sports fan psychology, said this suspense is healthy.

"Why do people seek that out? It certainly strengthens the emotional experience," Forsyth said. "We want to feel positive emotions. When we're uncertain of the outcome, it makes the positive emotions even stronger. On the other side, it makes the negative emotions even stronger, too. The uncertainty intensifies our reaction -- which is good."

But suspense is not guaranteed on Sunday. Historically, many past Super Bowls have been boring or blowouts. So, if you're not into fantasy football or the X's and O's, the personal narratives of the players and coaches on the field are what keeps you in the game.

"That story is important, both positive and negative," said study author Bee. "What people think of you, it affects whether they're rooting for or against you. And sponsors want to be affiliated with positive brands or positively viewed brands."

The upcoming Super Bowl has its engaging narratives. For the first time ever, the opposing head coaches are brothers: Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore). You might identify with the sibling rivalry or empathize with their parents who will see one son triumph while the other does not.

"These stories can increase interest and they can give casual fans a reason to watch and support," Bee said. "Maybe in the Olympics, sports or athletes that they don't really know, or even if it's something like the Super Bowl, they might not be a fan of either team but they're going to watch it anyway."

Forsyth said that the new study "confirms that it's not a wholly irrational process, these positive emotions that people have after their favorite team or competitor wins," he said. "People are rationally
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