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When the Game Hurts: Coping With Tough Sports Losses and Supporting Fellow Fans

Jan 18, 2024

If you’re a Philadelphia sports fan, you know that the highs and lows of a season can affect your overall mood. Recently, the Union, the Phillies and the Eagles all came close enough to taste victory, only to have it slip from their grasp.

These losses can leave diehard fans heartbroken, wondering how to pick up the pieces and carry on. Fortunately, there are ways to help yourself and other fans bounce back.

What happens when sports fandom causes disappointment?

“When we have high expectations for our favorite teams, their losses can cause temporary feelings of apathy, hopelessness and general discontent, I know this as a long-time Giants fan.” said Sean Sussman, D.O., Primary Care physician at Inspira Primary Care Swedesboro. “Tough losses can also contribute to short-term changes in sleep, energy level, appetite and ability to concentrate. I think it’s also important to recognize that we can’t appreciate the wins without having to suffer through losses. It’s all about perspective”.

Why do tough sports losses affect our moods?

Supporting our favorite sports teams can give us a sense of purpose and meaning, especially when our social lives revolve around these teams. It can also give us a sense of belonging, connecting us with others through mutual camaraderie and interests.

“When you become wrapped up in the success of a sports team, it’s possible for a major loss to cause disappointment and sadness,” said Dr. Sussman. “Tough losses can also leave you feeling helpless since your mood depends on the outcome of a game, something that’s completely out of your control. I think it’s important to recognize that we cannot control the outcome. All we can do is cheer and root for our teams and hope for the best”. You may even feel frustrated with yourself for having high expectations for your team, only to see them lose.

Offering comfort and support during the offseason

Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate feelings of sports-related heartbreak and support others who feel disappointed by a tough loss. Consider taking a step back from the game to gain some perspective. Since important games are often emotionally charged, they can feel more monumental than they are. In reality, there’s a good chance you’re largely unaffected by the outcome of the game in question.

“If you’re feeling upset about a sports-related loss, talking to others can help,” said Dr. Sussman. “Stay connected to your community, commiserate with fellow fans who can relate to your emotions and schedule other social activities to fill the void that remains when the season is over.”

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Primary Care, Health and Wellness, Behavioral Health