As I write this, we are watching the Ravens-Steelers playoff game. My son is a die-hard Ravens fan and, well, the Ravens are losing. With four minutes left in the fourth quarter a turn-around is unlikely.
This is a problem. My son has trouble keeping losses in perspective. He cries when his team is losing, runs around the room uncontrollably when they score, and is absolutely inconsolable when they lose.
This isn't just for the teams he is committed to (Ravens and the Orioles - I've had to restrict Oriole game viewing because they lose about a 100 games a year.) In whatever game he watches he chooses a team. This applies to NFL games between out of contention teams that he has no interest in and college teams he had never heard of before the game started. He picks favorites by asking his little sister who to root for. She picks on the basis of uniform colors - the Ravens are "The Purplies." She watches too - she likes it when "the big guys fall down."
My son even got upset when his favored conference lost the Pro Bowl. I tried to explain to him that even the players don't care about the Pro Bowl.
As I am writing he is whimpering, "It is all my fault! Every time I watch them something bad happens. My team always loses. It is all my fault!"
Explaining causality doesn't help, for my son, his culpability in the loss is an article of faith. It may be true that to observe a phenomenon is to change it - but I think that only applies to subatomic particles, not to professional sports.