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The pencils are sharpened, the brackets are filled out, and the most wonderful month of March is upon us. It’s high season for men’s and women’s college basketball as seasons conclude and winners are crowned in the NCAA tournament. And there are real benefits for the fans who follow the hardwood action, regardless of which teams are cutting down the nets in Dallas on April 2 and in Houston on April 3.
Researchers Ben Valenta and David Sikorjak looked into the benefits of fandom in a piece published on Salon.com. They found that being a sports fan enriched social lives across dimensions such as happiness, satisfaction, optimism, gratitude, and confidence. It wasn’t just a team’s success that drove these benefits either. Rather, it was tied to a greater number of social interactions that created stronger bonds with their communities.
WebMD took a closer look at the mental health benefits of being a sports fan. Rooting for your favorite team becomes an escape from daily stresses. It also results in the creation of adrenaline and dopamine—chemicals that result in positive emotions. The good tidings brought on by fandom fosters self-esteem and a sense of belonging, too.
The Daily Bulletin reports that college basketball and March Madness in particular have benefits for older adults. It’s not just the escape from pain or worries, it’s also the participation in filling out the brackets and chatting about the games. Basketball can provide a sense of nostalgia and trigger positive memories. It’s also shown that simply watching the game improves language skills and brain activity.
At Friendship Village senior living community in Schaumburg, the competition of March Madness is yet another of the many engaging activities enjoyed by residents. You don’t have to be a fan or alumnus of the University of Illinois or Northwestern to join in the fun. Throughout the course of the games, we’ll be having special competitions.
“Super Seniors” takes on a different meaning when we are talking about the fourth- and fifth-year students participating in the tournaments. But we know that the enthusiasm and interests of our local residents are just as super as the on-court endeavors of the young hoopsters competing this March.