The health benefits of being a sports fan

With the NCAA National Championship fresh on our minds, the Superbowl right around the corner, and the March Madness bracket on the horizon, it is currently a great time to be a sports fan. Many fans — particularly those with strong allegiance to a single sport or team — pour their passion into the games they watch. To some, these competitions may seem trivial and devoid of emotional implications, but to those who “get it,” the drama of big wins and losses is almost unparalleled in its resonance.

Put simply, it is fun to be a sports fan, but did you know that your fandom can also improve your health? It is true; sports fans have been linked to a variety of trends in improved health — both mental and physical.

 

An exercise in anxiety

Most dedicated sports fans have endured that game, where the scores are close, the tensions are high, and every second counts en route to a potential victory. If you have ever sat sweating over the build-up to a game tying field goal or a final second three-pointer, you have most likely given yourself a respectable calorie burning workout. The average person can burn around 100-200 calories when watching a game from a stationary position, and that is not even including the potential jumping, standing, and pacing that may come with an especially tense contest. Sudden changes in the action can also elicit a spike in heart rate, which can improve cardiovascular health in regular doses.

 

An emotional boost

There is perhaps nothing better than the euphoria we receive when our favorite team wins — especially if it is a victory over a heated rival or a tough opponent. These feelings can be far reaching in their impact on your health, and by associating with a successful and/or victorious team, you can actually make yourself happier. This fact is perhaps obvious to trace; identifying with happy players is infectious — it is human nature. Furthermore, fanhood is a powerful, at times intimate passion mechanism, and it can quickly manipulate our self-confidence in significant times of success and defeat. Just make sure to keep things as fun as possible.

 

An improvement in relationships

We not only identify with the players on our favorite teams, we also gain a communal mindset with other fans. As a result, game watching experiences can strengthen our relationships with those we share them with. The sometimes overpowering feelings associated with a competition’s results serve as the ultimate bonding factor, and they have been found to aid in relationship longevity over time.

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What can Bill Belichick teach us about leadership?

There are many different definitions and interpretations of “success,” but on the professional football front, it is safe to say that Bill Belichick embodies the term through and through. Belichick is one of the winningest coaches in NFL history, and he has led the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl titles since the early 2000s (and he is currently in pursuit of a sixth). 

Belichick recently discussed his five rules to exceptional leadership. Here, I will examine several of these points and the lessons we can learn from them.

 

Adaptability

Whether you are a seasoned leader or an aspiring one, adaptability is one of the most important traits you can adopt, as your work environment and list of responsibilities will likely be ever-changing throughout your career. Belichick, and most NFL coaches in general, are highly aware of this notion, but Belichick regularly exemplifies effective adaptability, extensively planning for opposing teams with one sentiment in mind: “every battle is won before it is fought.”

This preemptive strategy may serve you well in your own leadership role; lay out major company goals and potential challenges and nip them in the bud by planning in advance. Then, when these matters enter the foreground, you will be even more prepared.

 

Culture

Belichick strongly believes that culture beats strategy “every time.” In the NFL, it is obvious that rostered players have the abilities to play well; it is their cohesion as a unit that will ultimately win them championships. To fortify this characteristic, Belichick is said to hold a revolving door of team building exercises, including trivia nights and Navy SEAL training sessions, that help to establish team culture off the field.

In business leadership, this blend of in-office and out-of-office team building can be just as vital, as your company’s success will likely hinge on both personal chemistry and collective work ethic. A nice balance of fun and hard work will not only facilitate a strong bond between your employees, it will also keep them motivated and mentally sharp.

 

Passion

Leaders must exhibit some form of enduring passion to keep their employees happy and ready to work. It is no secret that Belichick’s passion for his craft is mostly introverted — he is usually a man of few words and low tones — but his undeniable tenacity has kept him coming back year after year, usually to consistent success.

However you plan to implement your passion, make sure you are leading by example in terms of drive, motivation, and focus. No one is saying you have to bounce off the walls on a daily basis, but just as Belichick proves annually, infectious passion can take many forms; the first step is finding your niche.

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