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Even Football Players Say It's OK to Cry, Sometimes

SATURDAY, Oct. 8 -- A college football player who sheds a few tears after a game isn't likely to take heat from his teammates, but they may be less forgiving about sobbing, according to a new study.

Researchers asked 150 U.S. college football players to read different stories about a fictional football player named "Jack" who cries after a game. In the stories, the player either tears up or sobs after his team wins or loses a game.

The players who read the story about Jack shedding a few tears after losing thought his behavior was OK, but they drew the line at sobbing. This group of players also said they would be more likely to tear up than sob if they were in the same situation.

Players who read about Jack sobbing after his team loses a game were more likely to say his reaction was more typical among football players, compared to players who read about Jack sobbing after his team wins.

The researchers also found that players who believed Jack's crying was appropriate had higher self-esteem. Those who felt that Jack's crying was inappropriate, but said they would likely cry in Jack's situation, had lower self-esteem, the researchers found.

The findings appear in a special section of the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity, which is published by the American Psychological Association. Psychologist Jesse Steinfeldt, of Indiana University-Bloomington, co-authored each article in the special section.

More information

Learn more at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

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Posted: October 2011