Fans Process Sports News Differently

by theaudioprof on September 2, 2012


The college football season started this weekend, here in Bloomington the Hoosiers hosted in-state Indiana State…and we barely held on to beat them.  In fact, fans of IU are thankful for the Minnesota Golden Gophers because they are preventing us from being the predicted cellar-dwellers of the Big 10.

And then there was the Big 10 vs SEC “showdown” Saturday night between Alabama and Michigan. The Crimson Tide handled Big Blue easily and even though this game was held in Dallas, it reminded me of my time in Tuscaloosa where I got to see the huge event that is Alabama football.

And, it reminded me of an experiment that I conducted when I was down there during a time when their football program was going through a much more turbulent time. In the course of about a year the school had a coach leave their program for another one (literally catching a plane in the middle of the night, if I remember right!) another one be hired, scandalized and fired, and a third one hired as “the savior of the program”.
We brought college students into the lab and had them complete a questionnaire that determined how big a fan they were of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Then, we divided the group into High Fans and Low Fans and played them segments of the press conferences held during this coaching circus. And we measured physiology while they watched. Guess what?!?
The people who were the really passionate fans of the team had more activated frown muscles while they watched the press conference of the coach who “betrayed the team” compared to moderate fans (see below).  Also, all fans paid more attention to the betraying coach’s first utterances in the press conferences compared to the “savior coach.”
This study has recently been accepted by the International Journal of Sports Communication.

Frown Muscles more Activated in Response to Betraying Coach

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