02 September 2008

Hallelujah! Finally A Scientific Theory Sports Fans Can Unite Around

I love sports, and I'm guessing you probably do as well. And, you guessed it - I watch a lot of it too. I've often defended my viewing habits with the notion that it's better than the quality of programming that often fills the remaining 1,574 channels on my cable box. While I've always believed this to be true, I've never had any scientific backing. Until now, that is.

Thanks to the lovely researchers at the University of Chicago sports fans now have the scientific study that until this point has been at our fingertips.

Being an athlete or merely a fan improves language skills when it comes to discussing their sport because parts of the brain usually involved in playing sports are instead used to understand sport language, new research at the University of Chicago shows.
See that? The study focused on hockey in particular. Hockey players, fans, and those who'd never seen or played the sport were used as participants. And it showed that even watching sports activates a region of the brain associated with planning and controlling actions.
Brain imaging revealed that when hockey players and fans listen to language about hockey, they show activity in the brain regions usually used to plan and select well-learned physical actions. The increased activity in motor areas of the brain helps hockey players and fans to better understanding hockey language. The results show that playing sports, or even just watching, builds a stronger understanding of language, Sian Beilock, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago said.
Sure, you could say that this is just one study.  You could also mention that with enough ambition and hubris you could come up with a scientific study that concludes just about anything (see: climate change is not real; intelligent design).  But isn't this how we operate?  We find something that sounds good to us and defend to the death.  And thus I have found the one scientific theory that I love above all else.  It's the "See, watching sports is really good for you after all" theory.  

 So the next time you're being criticized for watching your fourth football game of the day, just say that you're working on improving the neural networks that support comprehension.  Or something like that.  Right?

10 comments:

Ethan Stanislawski said...

Those University of Chicago psychologists need to get out of their mother's basement

-Class of 08 re-pre-sent!

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