When the San Francisco Giants won entry into the World Series Saturday night, I was not watching the game in San Francisco. But I knew the second they won from cheers in the street, firecrackers in the air, and the voice of a policewoman over a bullhorn saying they will arrest anyone for igniting fireworks. It made me ask a question sports psychologists have queried for decades: if winning feels so good for fans, how bad is losing?
Bad enough that a study last year found losing is associated with increases in domestic violence, but it's not all negative. In fact, people who follow sports, particularly notoriously losing teams, are more likely to have better emotional resilience than the rest of us. And when a losing team wins, victory is much sweeter.