So you didn’t go to Clemson or Carolina and have no strong ties to either school. Then how do you pick sides?
The psychology behind it is more simple than you might think.
Most sports fans are swayed by family, friends, emotion or geography (a form of emotion), and not through deep contemplative thought, said Palm Beach, Fla., sports psychologist John Murray.
“I don’t think it’s a very logical process,” said Murray, who’s been described as “The Freud of Football” when it comes to interpreting fans and sports.
Picking a team could be as simple as getting a favorite jersey or T-shirt as a youth, he said, or having a friend, family member or co-worker go to one of the schools.
Or it could be from watching one team win a close game or (just as emotionally triggering) not win a close game, he said.
“I think in every case it’s a little bit different. Some kid might like horses and start rooting for Wyoming,” he said, pointing to that state university’s logo of a cowboy on top of a bucking bronco. “There’s a million reasons that something might happen like that.”
There also are limitations to being a fan, Murray said, as the market gets flooded and teams become too numerous to choose among.
“There might be 100 teams that are great, but we seem to affiliate as fans with one or two,” he said. “There’s lots of competition for your fan choice.”
Also, it’s very seldom that someone moves away from a favorite-team choice (think from Clemson to Carolina or Carolina to Clemson) once its made.
“I think once that you’ve made that connection between yourself and the team, you have it,” Murray said.