Living with a Cowboys fan can be tough. After all, America's Team hasn't had a great streak of luck in the past few years. And it can be hard to witness the constant disappointment on my husband's face as his team loses yet another game. But hey, there's always his fantasy team. Or, you know, a pick-up game of Madden '12 to fall back on. Or maybe his second favorite team, The Chargers, will make something happen this year.
“Football is an all-American sport and people love it, especially in the South. But for some people, watching football can become an obsession,” says Josh Klapow, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham clinical psychologist in the School of Public Health.
And while my husband somehow manages to keep his sports obsession in check, others find it nearly impossible to put aside. And it can start causing real problems for their families.
“Watching sports provides an escape route for many people, enabling them to avoid thinking about problems or feelings they don’t want to confront. But the longer it goes, the stronger it gets and the more relationships it will ruin,” says Klapow.
Klapow says it's not just the number of hours spent watching the game or fiddling with your fantasy line-up that matters. It's whether the obsession for the game is interfering with real-life obligations. And just like any addiction--gambling, alcohol, videogames, etc. there are warning signs to look out for.
* Thinking about football while doing other things
* Becoming irritated when a game is interrupted
* Missing family or other important events to watch a game
* Getting depressed, angry or violent when your team loses a game
Klapow says if you recognize these symptoms in your significant other, don't be afraid to confront them before it does harm to your relationship. Just like with any addicts, they must first accept the fact that they have a problem.
Some other tips to manage football or other sports' addiction?
• Keep a log for one week of how much time is spent watching, listening or playing online sports.
• Set limits, such as one sporting event per week, two hours or less watching sports, etc.
• Allow your family an opinion on those rules, which might include not missing important family gatherings, such as birthdays or anniversaries for sporting events.
• Substitute new behaviors for sports viewing, such as exercise or spending time with family or friends.
• Seek help from a mental health professional to help address concerns regarding your habit.