Can a sports fan go too far? The psychology of fans and super-fans

The World

It might be that not everyone in the world is following the World Cup. But the sheer numbers of people tuning into the games show that a lot of people are seriously rooting for their favorite teams. FIFA recently came up with new (wide) estimates that say from 250 million to half a billion people tune in to watch.

And undoubtedly some of those fans will paint their faces, dress up in capes and holler at the screen like the world is ending when their teams miss that perfect shot on goal. Superfan Nicholas Iwaniwuk, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin will be one of them. He’s a serious USA fan and he’s just tattooed a team USA logo on his chest to support the team. He says watching the USA defeat Spain in a recent game was “better than sex.”

Edward Hirt, psychology professor at The University of Indiana at Bloomington, says there are a lot of psychological benefits to rooting for the team. But he also warns that going to any extreme in life can be unhealthy. We talk with him about where the line is, and whether it involves vuvuzelas.

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