Ask any Scotland fan, whatever shape of ball they chase, and they will tell you that following their team is often a test of endurance.

As the saying goes, 'it's the hope that kills us', and every supporter will recount the disappointments and heartbreaks experienced along the way.

They will also tell you of the grumbles from friends and family as they make sacrifices to follow their team. 

Now a new study has shown that the positives outweigh the negatives and that going to games is actually good for your health.

Where did the study get its data?  

Published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, the research is the first large-scale study to examine the benefits of attending any type of live sporting event. 

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The study, carried out by academics from Anglia Ruskin University’s School of Psychology and Sport Science, used data from 7,209 adults, aged 16-85, living in England who participated in the Taking Part Survey, which was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  

Did it just look at big sporting events? 

No, all types were covered – from Premier League matches down to games on the village green. And the results were conclusive; It found that attending live sporting events results in higher scores of two major measurements of subjective wellbeing – life satisfaction and a sense of “life being worthwhile” – as well as lower levels of loneliness. 


But I saw Morton getting pummeled by Ayr United on a wet Tuesday night and I didn’t feel particularly enthused... 

The actual scoreline doesn’t seem to matter, as it’s the long-term benefits being considered. The results are significant as previous studies have shown that higher life satisfaction scores are associated with fewer life-limiting conditions and better physical health, successful ageing, and lower mortality rates. 

The new study also found that attending live sporting events leads to an increase in people’s sense that “life is worthwhile”, and the size of this increase is comparable to that of gaining employment.  

What did the researchers say?  

Lead author Dr Helen Keyes, Head of the School of Psychology and Sport Science at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: 

“Previous research has focused on specific sports or small population samples, such as college students in the United States. Ours is the first study to look at the benefits of attending any sporting event across an adult population, and therefore our findings could be useful for shaping future public health strategies, such as offering reduced ticket prices for certain groups. 


“The live events covered by the survey ranged from free amateur events, such as watching village sports teams, right through to Premier League football matches. Therefore, further research needs to be carried out to see if these benefits are more pronounced for elite level sport, or are more closely linked to supporting a specific team. 

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“However, we do know that watching live sport of all types provides many opportunities for social interaction and this helps to forge group identity and belonging, which in turn mitigates loneliness and boosts levels of wellbeing.”