Why Your Employer Should Cut You Some Slack After Your Team Loses

Sports fan watching game Sports fan watching game
Sometimes Sunday sports can spill over into Monday work. adamkaz/Getty Images

Oh, to be a fair-weather fan — the kind who watches a team and feels a sweet pleasure in their wins and a vague disappointment in their losses. So easy. So painless. No slogging through work the next day in a desolate state, knowing all playoff hope was dashed during yesterday's blow-out game. That's if you even bother going to work on Monday, knowing your mind will just be replaying the missed conversion, the ugly play at the plate, the unfair goal.

And so a bunch of European researchers decided to see if a favorite sports team's loss spilled over to your performance at work the next day. They asked 41 military employees in Greece to keep a Monday diary (the day after their soccer team played), measuring how they felt when coming in to work and how engaged they were throughout the day. Not everyone followed the same team; there were nine different clubs that were represented by respondents.

They found that the respondents reported decreased engagement and job performance after a team loss the day before. That may not surprise any fan who has moodily read all the recaps of the lost game instead of working on a report.

But they did not find that a win resulted in an overall positive effect, nor did it lead to increased engagement and performance at work. The authors posit that this is part of a larger psychological phenomenon — that bad things seem to outlast good things, in our heads. (Is that why Boston fans still have a chip on their shoulder despite several years of dominance?)

Furthermore, the study's authors hand a depressed sports fan the equivalent of a doctor's note. They suggest that managers don't even bother assigning important tasks on Mondays, and stress that managers might have to work on "job reattachment" strategies for Monday mornings for their sad, losing employees.