MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A lot of fans took Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings loss hard. Some of those same people were so excited when the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota United FC made the playoffs last week.

These are our teams, whether they disappoint us or love us back. So, why do we care so much about them? Good Question.

Just ask Skolt Scott, one of several hundred members of Vikings fan club, Viking World Order. He attends every home game with his face covered in purple and yellow paint, hosts parties for the away ones and has had his nickname for 13 years.

“Sometimes people will ask, is Skolt the persona,” Scott said. “No, it’s part of who I am. This is the way I get to live part of that life.”

Research has shown people are more likely to identify with their sports team over their work.

“It allows us to claim an identity, a sense of belonging,” said Doug Hartmann, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. “We’re in a society that’s rich enough and wealthy enough that we have a lot of leisure time and we create a large part of our identity not from paying the bills or jobs, but from leisure stuff.”

For non-sports fans, the fascination with a game can be hard to understand. But for others, it’s how they connect with other people.

“Some people go to the game because they love the sport,” said Hartmann. “But an awful lots of people go for social reasons. To hang out with their boyfriend or girlfriend, to be with family or interact with friends they didn’t see for a long time.”

It’s an easy topic to talk about with others, like the weather. Sports can also be something that’s rooted in tradition.

“Being a Packer fan reminds me of being home with my dad, that’s what’s we did every Sunday,” said one Minnesota mother.

Hartmann also says people can sometimes place themselves in the place of the athletes. Others times they’re simply excited because the athletes are playing for “us.” Often, fans consider their sports teams a reflection of themselves.

“Things that happen to make us look good we take tremendous pride in,” Hartmann said.

Researchers will always point out sports is ultimately a contest. There’s always a winner and there’s always a loser. That alone can give people hope.

“There’s always the chance that you’re going to win it all,” said Scott. “The Twins have done it, the Lynx have done it, the Vikings’ turn is coming.”

Heather Brown

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