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U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens winds up to throw out the first pitch before the start of the Chicago Cubs game with the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Plenty of names have been bandied about as a potential replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced Friday that he was retiring.
Some want the next justice to be just as liberal. Others want more conservative. Some want another voice from the Midwest. Some want a woman. The list goes on.
But here’s a novel idea: make sure he’s a Cubs fan.
Jordan Grafman, Ph.D., is a cognitive neuroscientist with the National Institutes of Health and a Cubs fan. He contributed to the book "Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans."
Grafman says that part of Stevens’ success on the bench can be attributed to his loyalty to the North Siders.
“It’s pretty clear that if you’re a loyal fan of a team you have to do a lot of rationalizations and that kind of provocation is good for the brain,” Grafman says.
The Cubs have been steeped in futility for more than 100 years, and that means fans have had to do a lot of rationalization -- Stevens especially. The judge began going to Cubs games in the 1930s.
“The idea is that being a fan of a loser is better for decision making,” Grafman says with a laugh.
Grafman also says that Cubs fans turn out better because of where their ballpark is located.
“It’s in a neighborhood and that helps build this sense of communal pride,” he said. “It adds something because you have a stronger affiliation somewhere, unlike those parks in industrial areas away from people.”
Grafman contends that Cubs fans by far make better executives and fit better in careers that require higher order reasoning tasks than say Yankees fans who don’t have to rationalize their fandom.
“There’s just no comparison. It’s not even debatable.”