Emotional Reactions To Football Sporting Events

Recently, the Cal football team got absolutely waxed by the University of Washington football team.  It was a shocking event, because many people believed Cal would win.  And many people believed it wouldn't even be close.  Washington was a sub-500 team and Cal was in line to be tied for 2nd in the Pac10.  Cal was coming off of two big victories, including an epic victory over Stanford in the Big Game.

Understandably when Cal was defeated and by such a large margin, Cal fans were remarkably upset.  We ran a poll regarding this and found this response:

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If you are having trouble reading that jpeg, you can click on it to make it larger.  Or, in the alternative, I can inform you that of the 317 people who voted, the majority chose "Furious."  Other options included "Ebullient," "Pleased," "Apathetic," "Downcast," and "Drunk."  Furious had 130 votes, roughly 40 votes more than the next highest vote-getter "Downcast." 

So, the obvi mood after the game was that people were furious.  Furious.  Furious?  What the what?  Normally, I get furious at much more important things than football games, like being unable to get what I want at a sample sale or people wearing black and navy blue at the same time.  So, I was confused by people being "furious" over a sporting event.

I guess it's difficult for me to comprehend such a strong emotional reaction to Cal football failure.  Cal football failure was the norm for my first three years as a Cal fan.  Being in the marching band, I went to every home game, save for one, which conflicted with my cousin's batmitzvah.  I also went to the LA game each year and the Big Game at Stanford.  During that stretch, in games I personally witnessed, Cal won 7 of them.  And later had to forfeit 4 of those wins due to violations.  So, if i counted correctly, Cal won 7 out of 21 games.

Not exactly a sterling result and those were the games I watched in person.  We had many away losses, also.  Being in the marching band, each of those home games consisted of 10-12 hour days.  10-12 hour days that, due to the general start time of 12:30 PM for these non-televised games, started redick early.  Like 6 AM early. 

A lot of that day consisted of standing around, waiting for things to happen (before the game itself even started!).  Given my unquenchable thirst for socialization, it was an all-day party atmosphere.  Given the general end result of the games, the party atmosphere was the focal point of the day.  Win or lose, it wouldn't exactly alter how much fun we would have.

Sure, winning was great, but even if we lost, we still chilled all day long.  And if we did win, even better!  Especially considering we couldn't really control anything, no matter how strongly we adhered to our inane rituals and superstitions.  Even today, I have a wide variety of superstitions that I am CONVINCED will affect the on-field actions, no matter how many states away Cal may be playing.  And even today, I try to take that same attitude towards Cal football.  That it is less about the wins and losses and more about how much fun I have.  Is that a self-centered attitude?  Yes.  On the same wavelength, I can only get control things I can control.  I can't control ANYTHING related to the on the field action, except for being the 1/10,000th voice screaming on Defense.  So, while it feels incredibly satisfying to watch success, it is emotionally irrational to allow negative emotion over football failure.  This is especially true, considering the large amount of happiness being surrounded by Cal football friends brings us.

I am not a perfect person (BY FAR) and so I cannot always adhere to this philosophy.  Nonetheless, I do try my hardest and so the concept that one could be "furious" over a football game seems foreign to me.  Furious is such a strong emotional reaction.  I mean it's not just "sad" or "depressed" or "disappointed," all much more reasonable reactions.  It is beyond that level of reasonableness.  What would make me furious?  Being physically assaulted?  Being financially cheated?  I mean, am I wrong to believe that it requires something DIRECTLY affecting you to get to the level of "furious"? Nothing is actually happening to you here!  It's a game!  You aren't playing QB.  You aren't coaching Special Teams.  You are just watching a piece of sports entertainment.

So, please help me understand this situation.  Because I clearly am in the great minority here.  How is it that Cal's loss here made you furious?  I'm not here to negate anybody's legitimate emotional experience.  I'm just so unbelievably confused that I can't begin to approach that emotional experience.  Please, CGB denizens, help me better understand how a sporting event can create a "furious" emotional experience.  and GO BEARS!

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