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World Cup Matches Might Boost Your Mental Health
Date:6/16/2010

Rooting for your favorite team creates sense of connectedness, research shows

WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- If you can't wait to watch the U.S. soccer team take on Slovenia in its next World Cup match on Friday, know that being an avid sports fan may be more than just a lot of fun.

Scientists have shown that fans who feel personally invested in a team or, better yet, who attend games and cheer along with like-minded fans, reap the mental health benefits that come from a feeling of social connectedness.

"The main thing that people achieve via sports fanship is a sense of belongingness, or connectedness, with others," said Edward Hirt, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. "Sharing a common allegiance with others bonds people together in a special way. We can relate to others who share fanship with our team and feel a camaraderie with them that transcends ourselves."

That's a feeling Monty Rodrigues knows well. The New Hampshire-based financial analyst has season tickets for the New England Revolution soccer club. As president of the Midnight Riders, the team's fan club, he organizes pre-game tailgates and group activities that have raised $25,000 for charitable causes.

Along with friends he's made through the World Cup, he was in South Africa to watch the United States tie England on Saturday.

"In soccer, the fans are singing, drumming, jumping around. You feel like you're a part of the team," Rodriguez said. "I've met so many good friends through being a soccer fan. Some I see at Revolution games. Some I see at the World Cup. We'll pick a bar to meet up in, have a beer and celebrate friendships made because of the sport itself."

And as any sports fan can tell you, being a fan feels even better when the team wins or, in the case of the U.S. soccer team, surprises the world by tying with the heavily favored England. Other research suggests
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