Psychologist: Stressing about the Jaguars could take a physical toll

Being a Jaguars fan is serious business for some fans.
Being a Jaguars fan is serious business for some fans. (News4Jax photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ever notice how bad you feel when the Jaguars aren’t doing well? What about how pumped you get when they’re on a roll? Well, there’s a scientific explanation for that.

It turns out that our brains are wired to mirror what’s unfolding on our television screens, according to Dr. Tracy Alloway, who holds a PhD and teaches psychology at the University of North Florida.

“So when they’re throwing that ball, the part of our brain associated with ball throwing is just lighting up like a Christmas tree,” Alloway told News4Jax’s Eden Kendall.

So when the score’s not going our way, she said, there’s a reaction involved.

“Cortisol -- that’s our stress hormone -- is being released,” she said. “And, in fact, research has found that so much of it can be released that we can actually suffer minor cardiac emergencies.”

Along the same lines, research has found that the way we talk about the team depends on how they’re doing.

“When our team is doing well, we create a community,” she said. “We start using ‘we’ words -- ‘We are doing awesome.’ When they’re not doing well, we use distancing words and say things like, ‘They’re not doing well.’”

Interestingly, there can be a benefit to suffering through a losing season. Alloway said just watching a game from home can yield the same cardiovascular benefits as exercise, to a certain degree.

"You can kind of think of it like you’re getting a heart workout, as long as you don’t go over that tipping point of feeling too stressed.”