Can your love of sports become an unhealthy obsession?

Local News

People love football here in the south, there’s no doubt about that. It’s sometimes referred to as an obsession. But is it really an obsession? Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Josh Klapow, spoke with WIAT 42’s Stephen Hauck about the topic of sports obsession.Q:We know there are fans who can get out of control but is it really something to be concerned about to the point of an obsession?

Dr. Josh: Let me say this, being a sports fan, and even being a sports fanatic in a healthy way, is fantastic. It is something that gives us all such a release; but unfortunately we do see the headlines of the fans who take it too far and turn something that’s great into something that’s terrible. So yes, you can cross that line and turn that real healthy habit into one that’s not so healthy.Q: Why does this happen for some people?

Dr. Josh: Well, you know, if you think about what we love about sports, it gives us a sense of belonging. It gives us a distraction from things we maybe don’t like in our life. It gives us a way to identify with our team. But when people start identifying themselves by that team, in terms of their whole day, their whole being is defined by how well or how bad a team does, that’s when you can get into problems in your day to day life because you don’t control that team.Q: If people recognize those symptoms in a loved one, how can you know? What are some telltale signs of what we’re looking out for?

Dr. Josh: So I’m going to tell you something, but let me say one of them, or one of them in isolation, we’ve gotta talk about all of them put together.

  • If you’re watching a sport and someone interrupts you, even if you’re pausing a game, do you get highly irritated, highly agitated? Do you kind of fly of the handle a little bit?
  • If your team loses, do you get down, not even for the day or for a couple of days, but do you literally have a hard time concentrating on work etc. for the whole week until the next game so literally your mood is dictated by how well your team is doing.
  • Are your friends, family, and coworkers, told you to tone it down or do you find they don’t want to hang out with you during sports because you’re just too intense?
  • Have you gotten violent after a bad play? Have you broken something, have you thrown something, not just swear, but actually done something you know, that you regret?

Put all those things together, now you have a problem. Now one or two of those, not so much.Q: Now again, I know you want to make it clear, this hits home for a lot of people, but you’re not saying you can’t enjoy your team, have a passion about your team; but there are some kind of things where you can cross the line into an obsession?

Dr. Josh: It could, and what happens is when it becomes an obsession then it’s a problem. Not only is it not healthy for you, but you don’t get to enjoy the sport and the team as much, and really, for most people, it’s just toning it back down a little bit. Some people might actually need to go for help, but for the vast majority of people, it’s paying attention to what’s going on around you, and being a healthy fanatic, not an unhealthy fanatic.Follow Dr. Josh on Twitter here.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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