This Sunday is the Super Bowl in the US, although people from Canada and many other countries are sure to tune in. Anyone who has ever watched a football game knows how hazardous the sport is for its participants. But according to a new study reported on WebMD, football could be deadly for spectators, too—especially if their team loses.
Super Bowl Loss Could Kill You
WebMD says that a new study, published in the journal Clinical Cardiology, suggests that a loss in the Super Bowl is associated with increased heart-related death rates for men and women, and in older fans as well. That’s because some sports fans may get so emotionally involved when rooting for their favourite team that if that team loses, stress levels can soar, researchers say.
Researchers led by Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, of the University of Southern California, focused on the Los Angeles Rams’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV in Pasadena in 1980 and the Los Angeles Raiders’ victory four years later in Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa.
They looked at death rates in Los Angeles County on the day of each Super Bowl and for the two weeks following each game. They then compared that data to death rates in the same county for the same period in the years between and after those Super Bowls.
The 1980 loss was associated with an increase in total heart-related deaths in men and women in Los Angeles County on the day of the Super Bowl loss and for the two weeks following the loss. The Super Bowl loss was associated with:
- a 15% increase in all circulatory deaths for men;
- a 27% increase in women; and
- a 22% increase in circulatory deaths for fans age 65 and older.
Intensity of Games May Be a Factor
The two Super Bowl games studied were markedly different in nature. The 1980 game was much more intense, the researchers say, with frequent lead changes, and fan loyalty may have been greater because the Rams had been a Los Angeles team since 1946. In 1984, the Raiders had been playing in Los Angeles for only a few years.
Also, emotional involvement in fans in Los Angeles may have been different because the 1980 game was played in the suburb of Pasadena, while the Raiders’ contest four years later was played in Tampa.
Too Much Sports Excitement Can Be Dangerous
Prior studies have produced similar results. And the issue isn’t limited to American football, either. For example, researchers looked at cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and heart rhythm problems in Munich during the 2006 World Cup soccer marches, in which Germany played.
During the days of matches involving the German team, researchers found an increase in reported cardiovascular events. Researchers in that study concluded that “viewing a stressful soccer match more than doubles the risk of an acute cardiovascular event.”