Monday, February 08, 2016

SPORTS - "This is Your Brain on Sports"

"The hidden psychology behind sports teams, coaches and their fans" PBS NewsHour 2/5/2016


SUMMARY:  With the nation tuning in for Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, many sports fans have football on the brain, especially Sports Illustrated editor Jon Wertheim.  He recently co-wrote the book “This is Your Brain on Sports,” a look at the psychology and behavior of sports teams and their fans.  Hari Sreenivasan sits down with him to learn more about how athletes think.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  A TV audience of well over 100 million is expected to tune in to see the Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton go head-to-head with sentimental favorite Peyton Manning leading the Denver Broncos.

Both teams spent this week in preparations.  The game caps a season of big rivalries, bigger setbacks and some surprise comebacks.

In a new book, “This Is Your Brain on Sports,” “Sports Illustrated” executive editor, Jon Wertheim, along with co-author Sam Sommers of Tufts University, explore the psychology and behavior of sports teams and their fans.

For a closer look, Jon Wertheim joins me now.

So, “This Is Your Brain on Sports,” why the book?

JON WERTHEIM, Co-Author, “This Is Your Brain on Sports”:  We all love sports.

There is so much that goes on in sports, it seems irrational or counterintuitive.  And we dismiss that these are just sort of — these are the rules of the road of sports.  And we wanted to dig a little and say, what really explains — what are the underpinnings, everything from the crazy T-shirt cannon that we go crazy about, to the fact that teams seem to elevate when there’s a rivalry?

What is really going on here?  What is the human behavior?  What is the psychology?  What is going on here?

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Let’s talk a little bit about rivalries.

The likelihood is that this might be one of Peyton Manning’s last days.  So, it’s not a Peyton vs. Cam rivalry.  But, sometimes, when two teams get together at the Super Bowl, it’s a much bigger deal for entire cities and fans.  Why is that?

JON WERTHEIM:  Rivalry is one of these essential elements of sports.

And what the research says is that there really is a difference in performance a run-of-the-mill game vs. a rivalry team.  Physiologically, athletes in a rivalry game, testosterone levels are different.  Saliva levels are different.  These scores tend to be closer.

"5 early Super Bowl ads, starring athletes, Amy Schumer and hot dogs" by Larisa Epatko, PBS NewsHour 2/5/2016

Hee, hee, the 'old man' showed the young upstart how it's done.

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