Friday, 22 August 2014

Jeff Castner: Studying Sports Fans

Jeff Castner lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana, one of the great cities of the American Midwest. He has been employed at the same university for nearly thirty years, and has risen to become its Assistant Director of Operations. As such, he is responsible for making sure that the university runs smoothly.

When he isn't at work, Jeff Castner can often be found checking on the ups and downs of his favorite sports teams. He supports all of the local teams in Indianapolis, from the Pacers to the Colts to the minor league baseball Indianapolis Indians of the International League.

Jeff Castner knows that some people don't understand what it is about team sports that he and millions of other Americans find so captivating. On the one hand, Jeff Castner believes that if you have to ask, you'll never understand. Yet he knows that there is an entire discipline of studying sports fans, and it encompasses psychology, sociology, and even physiology.

There are a lot of important, fascinating, and surprising things that are associated with this topic, Jeff Castner knows. Fans get a lot out of identifying with a team, researchers say, in ways even players don't. The athletes are mercenaries, but the fan is permanent. The sense of goodwill, bonding and shared purpose that comes with being a fan has a ripple effect that can benefit all aspects of living.

Jeff Castner knows that if a team is doing well, it tends to reflect onto its fans in terms of bragging rights, status, and prestige. Studies have even shown that rabid sports fans have higher self-esteem and are less depressed, less alienated and less lonely than those who don't care about sports.

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