Super Bowl appearance boosts spirits for fans

BY foxsports • February 1, 2011

By Mark Concannon

February 1, 2011

The Packers playing in a Super Bowl anytime gets all of Wisconsin feeling giddy. But the fact that the Green and Gold are in the championship game this week is especially well timed as the state deals with its worst blizzard of the winter. Shoveling a couple of feet of snow from the driveway is a lot easier to take with visions of Aaron Rodgers leading drives on the turf at Cowboys Stadium this weekend. And that's a fact. I asked a professor.

"I think anytime that somebody can identify with the success of some other person or some other group that they have strong emotional ties with that sort of mood elevation it does wonders for their outlook not only of themselves but of all their daily lives," said Stephen Franzoi, professor of psychology at Marquette University.

"I think probably more than any other sports team in Wisconsin, the success of the Packers does the most to elevate the mood of Wisconsinites and Packers fans in general."

Winning Green Bay football is a mental salve for what ails us. And it is a universal in the dairy state. Who isn't talking about it? In these days where the population is politically divided like never before with ever-widening socio-economic chasms splitting them further apart, a simple question is sparking communication and conversation among people who would normally ignore one another. "How about those Packers?"

"I think generally people have a hard time developing a liking relationship for somebody that they don't think shares their values," Franzoi said. "And so the allegiance to the Packers and identification to the Packers is strong enough for many people that it is the thing that they can focus on with people they would normally differ on in political beliefs or other kinds of social attitudes."

For folks who are unemployed or worried about losing their jobs in the next round of budget cuts, an NFC Championship for Green Bay is more than a welcome mental diversion.

"Actually there's a lot of research about this, not specifically about the Packers," Franzoi said. "If there's something in your life that's not going well for you, if you're failing at some other activity, you can elevate your mood and increase your self esteem if you can focus on some other aspect of yourself that is being successful and that you can affirm. For Packer fans that other part of themselves, even though it's an allegiance to a sports team, it's part of how they identify who they are.

Franzoi confirmed a distinctly American truism; everybody loves a winner.

"When the team is successful, it really can bring people together," Franzoi said. "When the team is failing what you'll see is you'll see this emotional distancing. You can listen to the pronouns that people use in describing the wins and losses of their sports teams. If their team wins, it's 'we.'

"And there's this sense of group togetherness and communality. When the team loses, there's a desire to psychologically distance themselves from the loss and fans use the pronoun 'they.' 'They lost.'

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