Why Do People 'Root' For Particular Teams?

Why is it that people watching a sporting event like to ‘choose sides’, favoring a particular team to win rather than just enjoying the game? What’s in it for them?? What purpose does this serve???

It would make sense if you are betting on a specific team to win, but people seem to do this regardless of financial incentives.

And why to people select ‘their’ teams for such silly reasons. They like the Bulls because they are from Chicago. The players aren’t necessarily from Chicago. The owner isn’t necessarily from Chicago. Why should being in the same city have anything to do with it?


Even if you’re not betting, it’s much more entertaining if you care which team wins. A nice play is just a nice play, but you don’t get the same thrill if you care about the team making it (or being victimized by it).

People usually pick teams in their own town, mainly because they know more about the players. You can get daily reports during the season, the reports include more than just the score.

If there is no sports team nearby, or if there are more than one in a given sport, they choose (usually as kids) the one that’s the most successful, since it’s more fun watching you team win than it is watching it lose. Usually when you pick a team, you continue to root for it even when it does run into hard times.

I’m a Steeler’s fan because:

1.) I’m from Pittsburgh originally
2.) Watching the Steeler’s of the 70’s was my first exposure to professional sports as a youngster. T.Bradshaw, Franco, Bliar, MeanJoe (hint, the nickname!) Green, Lambert, Ham, etc., were Gods to a 8 year old!
3.) Hi Opal
4.) Black ‘n’ Gold is just so much cooler than the rest of the NFL
5.) Unconsciously, I feel a bond to Pittsburgh as my “home town” even though I’ve not lived there since age 13.
6.) When the Steeler’s do well, I feel a (logically unrelated) sense of pride that “my team, my town” has won.
7.) I feel a stronger emotional involvement in a game in which a team I “root for” is playing. I love football, watch as many games as possible over the weekends but none of them get to me emotionally (joy, outrage, I.C. slamming elation, etc.) as do as Steeler’s game.
8.) Many times, when you are from a town with a professional sports team, that team becomes a part of “the town”. That sounds strange but I have no other way to describe it. Example, first time I took a friend to Pittsburgh (penguins game) was during the playoffs several years back. My friend had never seen a town with so much attachment to their team. Every store, car, person on the street, etc., was decked out in Black’n’Gold.
Anyhoo, that’s all I can think of for now…

I’ve never quite understood the whole “rooting for the team” thing. I always hated the pep rallies that my high school would make mandatory. I never really got into my college football team - hard to get away with in Alabama (War Eagle!, Roll Tide!, Who Cares!)

I’ve also never understood the “We Won! We Won!” celebrations when the local team wins. “You didn’t win”, I say, “They won, you watched.”

Needless to say, in a sports town like Denver, this view is unpopular - they look at me like I’m some kind of traitor. I enjoy the games, I like to watch occaisionally, but I just don’t tie my self-esteem into the team and become part of it all.

By the way, Meanjoe, I’m also a child of the Steelers but pretty much lost the association when the core of the old team retired, ie: Swan, Bradshaw, Greer, Green, etc.


When it comes to baseball, I root for the Cubs because:

  1. Growing up in Denver, we had no team (I moved from there the year before the Rockies appeared.)
  2. With WGN, we got every game.
  3. I really got into the sport in 1984 (9 years old), coincidentally when the Cubs had a great year. Boom, a fan is born.

For the other sports, I tend to root for whoever I like better in a match-up. However, any basketball team that has Chris Mullin involved will earn my cheers.

I root for the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers for obvious reasons: each team encompasses all that is virtuous, pure and noble in its respective sport. Compare that to foul assemblages like the Cowboys and N.Y. Rangers, where all the players hate Jesus and fart in crowded elevators. Simultaneously, probably.

It’s a sense of emotional involvement, which is a powerful thing for us humans.

Leicester City through and through.

It’s no different than rooting for a character in a book or film or play. You get involved in the story of what is going on if the author has done his/her job correctly. And you can also just let the words or pictures flow over you.

Same thing applies to sports. You can appreciate it for the story that goes on during the game. You take a vested interest in one side’s success.

Or you can just enjoy the action. But that can be hard to do unless you are very knowledgeable about the sport.

Where I come from, “rooting” for a team takes on a whole new meaning :smiley:

Hehehe…he said “root”

A little hijack from the OP, but I think there’s an interesting subquestion: why do people care at all about who wins?

My hypothesis is that in really good times, people need something to care about, and in really bad times, something to distract them.

As for the “why did you choose your team” question, the above answers hit most of the good points, but there is definitely a bit of pop psychology that can be applied. Most people root for the home team for convenience/conformity, but some people purposely choose unlikely teams to be different. I remember a guy in high school in NJ who rooted for the Seattle Seahawks; when asked why, he said he did not know.

Finally, kudos to Bob Cos, who hit on another reason to root for the good guys (Eagles/Phillies/Flyers): Because evil (in the form of the Cowboys/Yankees/Rangers) must be stopped.

Well, I’m a fan of the Denver Broncos because I always have been. My mom was a fan and so was my grandfather. Football season was really great because I’d get to spend time with my grandpa, and he’d tell me all about the game. It was a bonding experience.
And I just don’t like other teams. I know that sounds really bizarre, but I can’t explain it. I’m sure though that other hardcore football fans understand what I mean.

Well, it’s better that ‘rooting a team’.

OTOH, I don’t barrack for anyone or any team. Maybe when the Olympics is on, I’ll support the Aussies, but in general, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc, really don’t care.

If I watch, it’s for the ‘enjoyment’ of seeing grown people express their desire to ‘beat’ someone else, which goes against the opinion expressed by almost all parent that it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. When does that stop being truth ?

Competative sports are a bother, especially when on Sunday arvo’s, all 4 local TV channels broadcast sport. What happened to the people who don’t want to root for anything ?

Watching games when you don’t care who wins is boring. There are certain teams I root for (those from Cleveland or Phoenix) and certain teams I root against (Yankees, Braves, Cowboys). I can watch a game in which any of these teams is involved, since I can get emotionally involved. When the Kansas City Royals play the Toronto Blue Jays, however, I could not care less.

I know that, for a lot of people, fandom is connected with childhood and parental bonding. With me, it was my mother - she loved the hapless Cleveland Indians, and I grew up loving them, too. Sometimes, when kids become teenagers and it doesn’t seem that they can connect with their parents about ANYTHING, they can still talk about sports, what’s going on with their team, and still feel that they have something in common.

It extends farther, though. When I’m in Cleveland, and I see all of the Chief Wahoos out and about, there’s a real sense of community. When I’m in Phoenix, and I see a Wahoo, there’s a connection between that person and me, even if it’s just as little as a “Go Tribe” in passing. If your team does well, and wins a championship, it’s a small part of pleasant history that you got to experience vicariously.

Not too long ago (in evolutionary terms - say 10,000 or 20,000 years) a strong identification with one’s social group was a survival necessity. Now that it is no longer, we replace it with various stand-ins: sports, religion, politics, nationalism.

For American baseball, I root for Boston because it’s my former hometown, and for Seattle because I really like Ichiro and Sasaki.

For Japanese baseball, I kinda root for the Yokohama Baystars because my former company came up with the team name a few years back. Mostly, though, I root against the Yomiuri Giants, the Chunichi Dragons and the Daiei Hawks because of their managers (Shigeo Nagashima’s a pompous idiot, Senichi Hoshino’s a class-A jerk who makes Billy Martin look like Mother Theresa, and Sadaharu Oh (yeah, the guy with 856 homers) is a class-B jerk). Of course, now that Nagashima’s retired and Hoshino’s moved to the Hanshin Tigers, I’ll have to adjust my hatred.

Simple… it makes the game more entertaining. There was nothing better than the 1999 NLCS playoffs when we had 20 people from the dorm around a tv, living and dying (but in the end dying) watching the Mets play the Braves. Our identifying with the Mets made it much more fun to watch the game.

Watching sports is more fun (for me) when I have emotional involvement with one or both of the teams. When I watch hockey, I always root (heh heh) for the Red Wings, because they’re my team; I’ve grown up with them. I remember watching games in the 80’s when they were so bad that *they gave cars away at the games to get people to buy tickets. * But that didn’t matter; they were my team and I would stick by them!

Actually, a lot of my favourite teams are underdogs; I like rooting for a team that’s not the best (the fact that the Wings are doing rather well is just a result of my being a fan; so it’s tolerable :D). My “other” hockey team is the Ottawa Senators. I started liking them because they were always dead last in the standings (this was in the early 90s), and I felt badly for them. So I became a fan of their’s. I’m just so proud they’ve been doing so well lately, like a proud parent! :slight_smile:

Ah, that’s another thing! When you have a team to cheer for, not only can you feel involvement in the game, but over seasons as well. If you stick by your team no matter how bad they get, when they do improve, you feel like your “involvement” (being a fan) somehow helped them improve. Even though most of your involvement is sitting on the couch yelling while they’re skating their asses off. :smiley:

Identification, social marking, what they said.

I became a Phillies fan because they were the local team when I started watching baseball. I’ve kinda jumped into bandwagons for every other team, the only exception being my college team. It gives one a feeling of pride watching your team beat another, especially live, especially when its’ free (hooray for the college band!).

In closing: Go Phillies! Go Eagles! Go Sixers! Go Devils! Go Orange!