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Facebook Data Show Just How Much Football Games Depress You

Whenever Facebook rolls out a new broad survey of its data, like a map of NFL fandom, the instinct is usually to jump right to the counterintuitive bits—Why would there be a pocket of Saints fans in the heart of Texas?—and then sussing out an answer. But here, with a look at how positive and negative words are used in realtime as NFL games go on, they only really mind you of the crushing masochism of watching sports.


The chart above shows the overall positive and negative emotions of fans, as shown by their Facebook statuses, for winning and losing teams in the NFL this season. (Fans are identified by Liking the team.) It's what you'd expect, but a little interesting for two reasons. One, teams that are going to win tend to come into the game a little more positive, but this isn't controlled for records, so that isn't a big shock. But the more interesting part is that, after having their emotions beaten into dust, fans actually get more morose following the loss, and then level off for multiple hours afterward.

That's displayed even further in this second graph, which shows seven day averages of fans throughout the season. Look at that thing! A Seahawks loss is enough to depress 1.4 million people for entire weeks at a time. Yes, the spikes could all be coming from the time centered around the game, but there's a whole rest of the week left, and the rest of the world too. And that's just for the Broncos and Seahawks, two of the best teams in the league. What the hell do these look like in Buffalo?

So, in summation, sports are goddamn miserable, and they make you miserable, and they keep you miserable. The Super Bowl begins at 6:30 EST on FOX, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.



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