A Fan's Life
The Agony of Victory and the Thrill of Defeat
by Paul Campos
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Pub Date 05 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 05 Sep 2022
The Pass. The Curse. The Double Doink. A sports fan’s life is not just defined by intense moments on a field, it’s scarred by them. For a real fan, winning isn’t everything—losing is. The true fans, it’s said, are those who have suffered the most, enduring lives defined by irrational obsession, fervid hopes, and equally gut-wrenching misery. And as Paul Campos shows, those deep feelings are windows not just onto an individual fan’s psychology but onto some of our shared concepts of community, identity, and belonging—not all of which are admirable. In A Fan’s Life, he seeks not to exalt a particular team but to explore fandom’s thorniest depths, excavating the deeper meanings of the fan’s inherently unhappy life.
A Fan’s Life dives deep into the experience of being an ardent fan in a world defined more and more by the rhetoric of “winners” and “losers.” In a series of tightly argued chapters that suture together memoir and social critique, Campos chronicles his lifelong passion for University of Michigan football while meditating on fandom in the wake of the unprecedented year of 2020—when, for a time, a global pandemic took away professional and collegiate sports entirely. Fandom isn’t just leisure, he shows; it’s part of who we are, and part of even our politics, which in the age of Donald Trump have become increasingly tribal and bloody. Campos points toward where we might be heading, as our various partisan affiliations—fandoms with a grimly national significance—become all the more intense and bitterly self-defining. As he shows, we’re all fans of something, and making sense of fandom itself might offer a way to wrap our heads around our increasingly divided reality, on and off the field.
“A terrific account of the experience of the engaged sports fan. Campos is deeply and broadly informed about sports, of course, but he also thoughtfully and authoritatively weaves in politics, music, economics, criminal justice, and race relations. He consistently and effectively reminds readers of how changes in media and communication have inflected the contemporary fan experience, without ever letting us forget the personal story at this book’s core.” ― David Henkin, author of The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
A Fan's Life is an interesting and timely look at the BIG business that is college and professional sports. The author uses frequent references about his love affair with The University of Michigan Football team with add to the narrative. The author also details the transition from simple sports fandom to social media obsession with our favorite team.
With the almost daily news that college athletics are dropping old alliances and practices to follow the substantial amount of money to be made from TV revenue, this book proves to be a timely source of interesting information.