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Atlanta Braves | Bask in reflected glory concept

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves’ recent wins aren’t just good for dedicated fans, sports psychologists say, it’s also good for the whole city.

There’s the research and the history to prove it.

In 1991, the city of Atlanta was in high spirits. The Braves went from one of the worst teams in baseball to one of the best, skyrocketing from sporting obscurity to the World Series.

Passive sports fans who had ignored the Braves for years turned fans, and the city seemed to put aside small differences to unite and enjoy the team’s sudden success.

In the world of sports psychology, this is called “basking in reflective glory”.

“People who are sports fans, they wear their sports gear, they feel happy when the team wins,” said Dr. Judy Van Raalte, professor of psychology at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. “It even improves their own self-esteem and they feel good around others.”

Dr. Raalte refers to a study conducted by Dr. Bob Ciaidini, professor of psychology at Arizona State University. He noticed that when one of the university’s sports teams won, more students wore team clothes and used the term “we” when talking about the victory.

“This effect seemed to ripple out to a wider area than dedicated fans,” Dr. Van Raalte said. “What he noticed was that people felt good when the team was winning and they basked in the reflected glory of that victory and the whole campus felt good.”

Atlanta is used to winning, at least as far as the Braves are concerned. The team and city went 26 years without a World Series championship. Last season’s glory sent a good feeling ripple from one corner of town to another.

We were all in good spirits, reminiscing about 1991.