Tag Archive for excitement

The World Cup And Testosterone

Women are often baffled by men’s reactions to sport.  Indeed some men are baffled too.  As the World Cup will soon be upon us, and the nations euphoria will build on mass before, no doubt, we have to console ourselves at the loss of yet another penalty shoot out, I thought it might be useful to reflect on what’s going on … in our brains.
football fans
The key to understanding men’s reactions to the World Cup, or any sport for that matter, is testosterone.  From as early as being an unborn child, testosterone shapes and dominates men’s brains.  It literally kills off ‘female’ parts of the brain, and builds the male brain that will seek out beautiful girls … and sport.  So how is testosterone implicated in sport?

Researchers have found that leading up to a competition; men’s brains become flooded with testosterone.  This is the same whether we are competing or simply watching.  The testosterone gives us our sense of excited anticipation, but it also gives us a belief that our team cannot lose.  Given that our brains evolved over millions of years, it’s easy to see why such excitement and confidence could give us an advantage.  Going to hunt or war is going to be more successful if fuelled by excitement and self confidence.

Researchers have also found that if we, or our team, should win, our testosterone levels fly through the roof.  This is a natural high, not dissimilar to cocaine, and it’s addictive.  The natural high these elevated levels of testosterone give us makes us behave with a cockiness and self assuredness that can drive women bonkers.  Women have a testosterone rush with sport too, but with only about 10% of the testosterone of what a man gets, even the keenest women isn’t going to view the World Cup in the same way as a man.  As a result, this part of being a man is permanently off limits to women … they just don’t get it.

You can see this male typical behaviour down the pub.  The excitement and confidence make us wear silly hats and face paint and we bond with our fellow supporters.  The modern equivalent of hunting the wild boar.  If we win … happy days … our testosterone soars and we party on the high.  As our team progresses through the World Cup with (hopefully) win after win, you can see the effects of this group narcosis everywhere, in the proud display of flags and national colours.

But what if we lose?  Well I guess we’ve all experienced that flat feeling when the final score comes in.  The game is over.  All hope has gone.  We have lost.  Men silently finish their drinks and mooch off home feeling despondent, often for days at a time.  It is as if your emotional world has just collapsed.  Why is this?  Well researchers have found that if our team should loose, our testosterone levels also collapse.  As a result, the fuel for the natural high dries up, making is sullen and unresponsive.  We experience a mild depression and self doubt. We even lose interest in sex.  This is a hormonal crisis for men.  A sort of male PMT.

Because women don’t experience the high, they can’t relate to the low either.  Any attempts to explain your feeling of despondency is bound to fail.  Women are biologically not equipped to ‘get’ what we are going through.  The best thing to do is disappear off to the shed for a few days, and wait for our hormones to get back to normal.  Space and time will heal; just let her know that’s what you need.

But what if we don’t lose, what if we actually win the World Cup?  Well we can expect a testosterone high that we will last for months.  The nations feel good factor will skyrocket.  It might even boost our economic output.  Eventually, of course, our bodies will return to normal.  But we will remember the testosterone fuelled euphoria for the rest of our lives.  I hope we win.

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