Aim: Increased rates of hospitalization due to cardiovascular events have been reported during phases of World Soccer Championships (WSC). The purpose of this pilot study was to explore acute psychological and physiological effects of watching a live broadcast soccer game during the WSC 2006.
Methods: Seven male supporters (age: M=24; SD=2.7) of the Swiss National Soccer Team watched a game of their team in a controlled laboratory setting. Heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase (sAA), and testosterone concentrations, as well as several mood ratings were captured repeatedly before, during, and after the game.
Results: Subjects reported feeling stressed, and HR and sAA activity showed an increase during the game. In contrast, HRV, cortisol and testosterone were unaffected.
Conclusion: Watching a sports competition seems to specifically affect the sympathetic nervous system, which can be measured by sensitive electrocardiographic and salivary markers.