How to Cope when Your Favorite Sports Team Loses

Two Methods:Reacting to a LossHandling Disappointment Going Forward

Watching your favorite team lose can be tough to handle, almost as much as watching them win can give you great excitement and joy. Losing is part of sports, though, and you’ll see your team lose plenty of games. Learning how to handle the losses is an important part of being a fan.

Method 1
Reacting to a Loss

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    Acknowledge your feelings. Sometimes people allow things like the performance of their favorite team to affect their emotions. That’s okay. If you are angry or upset about your team losing, don’t pretend otherwise. Give yourself a chance to vent a little bit, or at least be disappointed.[1]
    • Keep control. Because it’s only a game, there is no reason for your anger or sadness to lead to personally destructive behavior. If you are at the game, go ahead and yell a bit, but avoid shouting at other fans (especially fans of the other team). Avoid fights or throwing things as well.[2]
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    Talk to other fans. Sports are a great communal experience, and even if you are watching alone at home, there are other people out there enjoying the game too. Call your friends who are also fans to let off steam and cope with the disappointment of a losing team. Consider joining a fan club or online forums to talk more about your disappointment and even brainstorm ways to fix what went wrong. If you are going to suffer, it’s better to do so together.[3]
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    Eat something. Food can be a great comfort when faced with disappointment, including watching your team lose. Just make sure to eat healthy if you can. People tend to reach for sweets and other unhealthy foods when dealing with a loss. Instead, make sure you are surrounded by healthier foods so that you aren’t tempted to pack on the pounds after defeat.[4]
    • Comfort food, a term for rich foods that tend to make people feel good after eating it, are popular choices after a loss. They are filling, and may remind people of pleasant memories like childhood, and other things to take the mind off of losing. Look for hearty foods like macaroni and cheese, stews, pot pies, meatloaf, and sweets, which are all popular “comfort” choices. To make these options a bit healthier, consider using lower fat creams and cheeses, swapping out beef for turkey in meatloaf or chili, or adding vegetables. If you are looking for something sweeter, eat darker chocolate.[5]
    • Avoid overeating. While it is okay to enjoy a little snack to feel better after a loss, remember to control your portion size. Use smaller plates when eating to prevent you from overdoing it, and put away the snack after putting some on your plate.[6]
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    Turn off the TV. If you are watching the game, and your team loses, you don’t have to wallow in your disappointment. Turn off the television and do something else. Find another activity to take your mind off of the result.[7]
    • You’ll want to find something that has nothing to do with the team or game you just watched. Read a book, cook something, or watch a movie that takes place in an exotic location. Make sure you are doing something completely different.
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    Get a little exercise. Some physical activity can be a good way to work off the frustration of watching your team go down in defeat. Even just a few pushups or jumping jacks, or a quick jog, can help work off your stress and disappointment. It can also give you an energy boost and stave off further anxiety over your team’s performance.[8][9]
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    Remember it’s just a game. Your life is full of more important things than who wins and loses a game that you aren’t even playing in. While people can lose sight of this in the excitement of a game, it is always a good reminder after a loss. This doesn’t make your disappointment at losing any less real, but can help you move past it quickly.[10]

Method 2
Handling Disappointment Going Forward

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    Accept your impotence. There is nothing you can do to affect the outcome of a game, including wearing those lucky socks. Your team didn’t lose because you didn’t cheer loudly enough or sat in the wrong seat. Their failure is not your failure.[11]
    • One way to give yourself a little more control is to play as your team in a video game. Set up the game they just lost, and get the result you wanted to see. If you’re feeling a little down, go ahead and set the difficulty on easy to really give your opponents the pounding you feel they deserve.
    • Playing fantasy sports is a way to be more active with the sport. Drafting your own lineup and trading players around can give you a small sense of control over events. Additionally, fantasy sports users are more likely to feel the positive emotions after winning matchups than the negative feelings that come with their favorite teams losing.[12]
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    Stay loyal to your team. One loss shouldn’t be enough to drive you from supporting your team. Staying loyal after a loss, or even when moving to a different city, can give you a big psychological boost.[13] Plus, sticking it out through the bad times will make it feel even better when your team does win the big one.
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    Remember the good times. While losses hurt, no team loses all the time. To get over a big defeat, think about your team’s good times. Remember great comebacks, championships, or even just good times with friends and family watching your team. If you’ve watched your team before this game, there will be some moments you can look back on fondly.[14]
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    Be prepared to deal with taunting from other fans. Taunting, insults, and banter are parts of the sports fan experience, and you’ll almost certainly be a target after losing. Rather than being surprised when it happens, be prepared to handle it appropriately.[15]
    • Ignore it. Like other forms of teasing or bullying, taunts from opposing fans can be ignored. Laugh it off, or just walk away. Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they got to you. Those fans didn’t play in the game, so who cares what they think?
    • Give it right back. Don’t be afraid to respond with a few taunts of your own. You can probably think of a few good insults for the opposing team and their fans. It won’t change the result of the game, but can be another good way to vent your frustrations.
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    Be optimistic. The great thing about sports is that there will always be another game. Another game means another chance to win. Instead of dwelling on the game your team lost today, think about the game they could win next time out.[16]
    • Depending on where you are in the season, a loss can even be helpful to your team’s future performance. Finishing lower in the standings might mean a better draft pick, or a chance to see underperforming players replaced.
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    Talk to a therapist. While being sad after watching your team lose is not unusual, it should not have long-term effects on your emotional health. If you find that a loss is affecting your ability to live in the real world, look for professional help. Just because your depression seems to be coming from the outcome of a sporting event doesn’t mean it isn’t a real concern.[17][18]


  • While it is okay to vent your feelings after a loss, avoid doing things that can be damaging to you and those around you. This means no fighting, violence, or anything that could put you in harm’s way.

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Categories: For the Fan