A Psychologist Says Fan Grief Shouldn't Last Longer Than a Week

January 29, 2024, 2:08 PM

So you're a big Detroit Lions fan and you're grieving the loss in San Francisco Sunday night.

You're not a alone. In fact, fans in towns like Baltimore, Buffalo, Houston and Cleveland are experiencing those same feelings after seeing their teams flameout in the NFL playoffs.

Last year, after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, Kristin Hunt of the PhillyVoice interviewed Dr. Eric Zillmer, a licensed psychologist and professor of neuropsychology at Drexel University, about fan grief. "But it shouldn't, if you're asking me personally, last longer than a week," he tells the publication.

"Winning and losing matters to those individuals because their identity is wrapped up in it," he says.  "So losing confronts the Philadelphia fans with this painful reality."

The Voice goes on to write: 

Zillmer said fans coping with a tough team loss tend to move through a cycle similar to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It's the second stage where fans often linger for days or even weeks, months and years, believing they're "cursed" to lose again and again.

"It usually involves blaming someone, in this case the official who made that call in the last quarter," Zillmer said. "But it could be anything — coaches, players. You might blame the family dog."

In order to get past the anger and onto the next stages, which might involve swearing off the Eagles forever or promising to sell season tickets before dusting off the old jersey yet again, fans need to acknowledge their feelings and talk about them. That doesn't mean they need to find therapists, Zillmer said. Just processing the loss with work colleagues or fans at their favorite bars can help speed up the process. Listening to sports radio and watching TV coverage is also helpful. The key is not to stew in feelings alone.

To read the full article click here. 

Read more:  PhillyVoice

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