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How Astros wins make us 'Houston stronger'

Fans hold up signs supporting Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros during game two of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on October 14, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
Fans hold up signs supporting Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros during game two of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on October 14, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

HOUSTON – “Houston strong” became our motto after Hurricane Harvey. It always meant we had been through a disaster together and would rebuild the city. Now the Astros are putting even more pride into the term, and there's scientific proof it can help.

Dr. Asim Shah at Baylor College of Medicine said the city experienced depression after the hurricane, but he said, a winning sports team can help reverse the problem.

“If we win, that causes a lot of increase in self-esteem. Why that happens? What happens is during a game, if your team is winning there's a lot of excitement and win causes increase in testosterone levels which in turn causes an increase in dopamine levels, which in turn stimulates your reward center, and which in turn causes you to increase your self-esteem,” Shah explained.

Truth be told, Harvey may be the reason the players got this far in the playoffs.

Sure they've always been good athletes, but if it seems like they're superheroes now, it's because they're drawing strength on doing something bigger than themselves.

“Rather than playing for them self or one person... They're playing for the city and that is what brings them together and that is what causes them to win,” Shah said.

For another example, the Yankees after 9/11, or the Saints after Katrina. Those teams had a common motivation and it helped rally cities weakened by devastation.

It's exciting to think the Houston Astros could be added to that list.

Shah said, win or lose, the cheerfulness the team has brought to the city already puts them in that category above the rest.

The feeling that your city is superior makes you feel good, but Shah warns there are negative side effects to being deeply invested in a team that loses. He said studies show people rooting for a team that’s losing will eat more and drink more alcohol during the game.