Tue Nov 17 12:43pm EST
I expect Michigan fans to get a little emo over their team's six-game Big Ten swoon, Wolverine partisans being noted for their unparalleled skill in ennui, languor and the other stoic arts that derive naturally from surviving cold, bleak winters, a crumbling economy, long losing streaks to hated rivals, etc. The last three years of Michigan football have been like something out of a Morrissey song, and from the sounds of his regular Monday press conference, Rich Rodriguez has finally succumbed to culture of melancholy:
It eats at your soul. I don't coach football, I live it. ... When you put so much into it and you don't have success, it certainly eats at you. I've lost before. I'm not used to this, my staff isn't used to this. It gnaws you to the bone.
When the negativity starts coming from the head coach as well as the local newspaper in the span of a few hours, that is some heavy duty angst.
It is also, according to a forthcoming study from Ohio State that examined fans' anxiety levels during the cataclysmic OSU-Michigan game in 2006, the right underlying emotion to facilitate an explosion of the greatest euphoria in Ann Arbor if the Wolverines somehow manage to pull out of their doldrums to upset the Rose Bowl-bound Buckeyes and secure an improbable bowl bid this Saturday:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – For sports fans watching their favorite team play, the greatest enjoyment comes only with a strong dollop of fear and maybe even near-despair, a new study suggests.
"You need the negative emotions of thinking your team might lose to get you in an excited, nervous state," [researcher Siliva] Knobloch-Westerwick said. "If your team wins, all that negative tension is suddenly converted to positive energy, which will put you in a euphoric state."
That's why the fans of the winning team – in this case, Ohio State – who felt the most sense of enjoyable suspense were also those who at some point were most convinced their team would lose, she said.
Science has spoken: The more convinced you are you're going to lose, the better winning is. Do not attempt to argue with science.
And for the Wolverines, if they want to have any chance of enjoying the proceedings Saturday: Don't take heart. Buck down. Look on the dark side. There is no hope for you yet.
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Hat tip on OSU study: EDSBS