Sports Fandom & Physical Health: Allies or Adversaries?

: Aaron Mansfield
: Nov 2, 2023

You’re at an NBA playoff game, and your stomach is rumbling. You roam the concourse, searching for something to eat. There’s just one problem: physical health is a high priority for you, and the options you’re finding at the concession stands are, well…not what comes to mind when you think “healthy.” 

Encountering this predicament myself, as a doctoral student, got me thinking: What is the relationship between sports fandom and physical health? On one level, the two seem to complement each other – athletes are viewed as the pinnacle of health. Watching stars like Ja Morant and Giannis Antetokounmpo compete at the highest level can inspire us to move our bodies. On another level, however, fandom and health seem to conflict – the refreshments associated with sports consumption are high in calories and void of nutrients. Unpacking this complicated question became the focus of my dissertation, which spurred two recent publications in the Journal of Sport Management. Download this McCormack Thought Leadership Spotlight for key takeaways and implications of the research.