“Fanaticus: Mischief and Madness in the Modern Sports Fan” by Justine Gubar
Sports, psychology, fans, behavior
June 4, 2015
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)
While sports can be a relaxing form of entertainment, they also can elicit the worst behavior in people as well. What can cause otherwise well-behaved humans to act like this is explored in “Fanaticus”, a well-written and well-researched book by ESPN producer Justine Gubar.
Starting with Gubar’s experiences at dealing with this behavior while doing investigative work on the scandal that led to the removal of Jim Tressell as the football coach at Ohio State, the book explores the different aspects of fan behavior and the various settings in which it can take place.
From name-calling and threats that Gubar received from Ohio State fans to the riots in Vancouver after the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals to an interview with a “professional” European soccer hooligan, the scope and breadth of research done to illustrate the psychology and behavior of sports fans is thorough and informative. Nearly every level of sport is covered – from the poor behavior of parents at children’s sporting events to student sections at college games to riots during and after professional games. Just about every sport is covered as well – Gubar leaves nothing out in her expose of rowdy fan behavior.
What is also noteworthy about the book is that she concludes that the nature of this behavior is multifaceted and that there is no easy solution. Among the factors discussed in the book are alcohol, mob mentality and how much a team is part of a fan’s personal identity. Why there is no easy answer to any of these include economics (such as the profits from sales of alcoholic beverages), difficulty of enforcement and the growth of social media where people can express themselves instantly and with more anonymity. Every story, from the time Grubar confronts one of the people who were harassing her during her work on the Ohio State scandal to the tale of the Oregon student who played a cruel trick on a California basketball player, will grab the reader’s attention and won’t let go. This a book that all sports fans, no matter the level of fandom, should read.
I wish to thank Ms. Gubar for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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