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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sports Addiction

   According to a recent French study, 42 percent of people who participate in sports are at risk of sports addiction. 
     When we think of addiction it’s usually drugs, alcohol or tobacco, but there are other things that people can be addicted to. As a chessplayer I have seen people with an unhealthy obsession, an addiction actually, to the game. Chessplayers aren’t the only ones though; people can be addicted to sports of all kinds. 
     In a 2016 article Karin Jongsma, a bio-ethicist at the University Medical Center of Gottingen in Germany who is interested in identity, technology, representation and autonomy, made some interesting observations. 
     Sports have certain heath benefits, encourage self-discipline, and develop teamwork. Participation in sports contributes to improved cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, lowers the risk of osteoporosis and depression and can actually increase life expectancy. 
     It’s known that people often experience a high after exercising that is triggered by the release of so called happiness hormones such as dopamine and endorphins, which have mood-altering effects. These effects can be habit-forming. However, an unhealthy sports addiction is both real and harmful. 
     Sport addicts actually experience many symptoms common to other addicts. For active participants the intensity, duration and frequency of workouts can be harmful because people don’t take time to recover from injuries. Also, undetected health problems can put them at risk. 
     But, beyond that sports addicts can suffer psychological damage. They become dependent on training for feeling good and they can develop tolerance to the high, and so require more and more exercise to get the same result.
     When not exercising, they experience withdrawal effects, depression and anxiety. There are also a negative social effects when addicts prefer training over friends, family and work, or are so preoccupied are they mentally elsewhere in social situations. 
     Besides those physically addicted, there are also those addicted to sports on television. It is not unusual for sports-obsessed people to spend three to four hours each evening (and much more than that on weekends) watching the games or sports highlights on television. Often, even while at work, sports talk radio is playing in the background all day and computer checks of what’s happening in the world of sports are frequently performed. Fantasy sports are also exceedingly popular with addicts. 
     Spectator sports is a ubiquitous obsession. Sitting on the couch snacking on junk food for hours for hours all week and watching people they don’t know playing a game held in a distant location, cheering, yelling and screaming while pretending it all has something to do with themselves is not rational. It can even be dangerous. As a kid, Mr. Stebbens, the old man that lived behind us had a heard attack and died when he became angry and started cursing at the Cleveland Indians baseball team for making a bad play...no kidding! 
     Spectator sport addicts take the results of the games very seriously and when their team loses they will often be devastated, frustrated and depressed for hours or even days afterward. They are not just watching games for entertainment, but because they are living vicariously through the achievements or failures of their favorite teams. So, whether their team wins or loses they take it personally. 
     When these addicts are away from sports for awhile, especially if an important game is taking place at the same time, it is difficult for them to concentrate on anything and they are constantly checking the score and getting updates. Some addicts will even make excuses for missing an event so that they can stay home and watch the game. The spectator sports addict simply can’t stop obsessing over sports. 

Signs Of Spectator Sports Addiction 
 * The amount of time spent watching sports has a negative impact on relationships with others and real-life obligations. Signs include missing family events to watch the game, thinking about sports all the time and feel depressed when their team loses or get an adrenaline rush when their team wins. 
 * Their obsession with watching sports can affect their finances. They’re so obsessed with collecting jerseys and memorabilia that they’re willing to max out credit cards to buy an item they want. 
 * They obsess about hearing the latest news and are unable to think of anything else or have conversations that weren’t related to sports. 
 * Addiction to physical exercise. This is characterized by longer duration or high-intensity workouts, loss of control (Fitness abusers can’t stop or cut back on their workout sessions once they’ve built up a tolerance), and spending too much time engaging in gym workouts and aerobics. 
 * Most of their friends are sports addicts and their friends are limited because their only interests are sports related. 
 * A bad result on game day ruins their mood for an extended period of time. 
 * There is a psychological void that is only filled when watching sports. 

     There is also a hidden danger few people are aware of. According to the partnership for Drug-Free Kids, kids who are sports fanatics are more prone to substance abuse than the general population. They feel an overwhelming pressure to be the best among their peers and so may turn to performance-enhancing drugs to boost performance. 
     According to the British Medical Journal, one in three doctors in England have had patients who have used substances to improve athletic performance. For teenagers for whom sports is a way to get college scholarships, the pressure can cause them to turn to drugs. The drugs include narcotics, cocaine, amphetamines, anabolic steroids and human growth hormones.
     For some students contact sports such as hockey, soccer, football and wrestling can lead to substance abuse and alcoholism because these sports teach young athletes that pain and violence are a part of life. Additionally, full contact sports can lead to traumatic head injuries. 
     In 2013, professional American[ football players received about $765 million in settlements after suing the NFL over concussion-related brain injuries. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require just one big blow to cause traumatic brain injury. A Boston University study revealed that repeated blows to the head cause degeneration of the part of the brain that regulates impulse control. This leads to suicidal thoughts, emotional instability, depression and extreme mood swings. Individuals going through any of these symptoms might turn to illicit substances.

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