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Watching the Nail-Biting Big Game Hurts So Good
Date:11/26/2009

Fans get a bigger thrill when on an emotional rollercoaster, study finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Call it the fear factor meets the jubilant sports fan.

A new study suggests that spectators -- especially those who root for the winning team -- enjoy the greatest satisfaction if it's a closely contested match and victory was in doubt, producing feelings of worry and even despair.

Chew on that this Thanksgiving weekend as you're glued to the TV set, watching back-to-back football games.

"Sports entertainment obviously instigates intense emotional experiences," said study co-author Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, an associate professor of communication at Ohio State University. "You would expect that positive effect is relevant for entertainment enjoyment, but negative affect is crucial, too."

Added study co-author Prabu David, also an associate professor of communication at Ohio State: "When people think about entertainment in general, they think it has to be fun and pleasurable. But enjoyment doesn't always mean positive emotions."

To conduct the study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Communication, Knobloch-Westerwick and David polled 113 college students as they watched a dramatic football showdown in 2006 between the Buckeyes of Ohio State and the Wolverines of the University of Michigan.

Adding to the stakes of the bitter, decades-old rivalry was the fact that Ohio State was ranked number one in the country, Michigan was ranked number two, and the winner would earn the right to play in the national championship game. Ohio States ultimately prevailed, eking out a nail-biting victory, 42-39.

Prior to the game, the study participants had completed a questionnaire that asked which team they were rooting for and how committed they were to that team. Half the students were Ohio States fans, one-third were Michigan backers, and the rest were uncom
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