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The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans

by Joe Queenan

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2003
ISBN: 0-8050-6979-8
Publisher: Henry Holt

Attention, sports fans! You are slightly demented. Seeking help in the latest from droll journalist Queenan (Balsamic Dreams, 2001, etc.) will simply exacerbate the nuttiness.

What are all those war-painted, loud, fat drunks in the cheap seats up to, anyway? The author isn’t quite sure. Harboring a prodigious recollection of sports arcana, he is more earnest than those mugs in the fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Theologically as fierce as a Jesuit in his study of the personality disorder that dictates unreasoned fidelity to bands of congenital losers, Queenan unleashes his accustomed wit. He offers no bumbling performer false deference. After all, “the fans care about championships. The athletes care about money.” Hailing from the city of brotherly love, the author is bound to root for the Phillies, 76ers, Flyers, and Eagles, no matter how awful these home teams may be. It’s crazy, of course, but it’s one way fans are assigned. Some fans dispense their loyalty because they like the team colors or home arena. Other fans bond to teams they see as destined to prevail, even shifting allegiances with developments. That’s despicable, says Queenan. The right way to choose a team is through birthright, whether by primogeniture or natal city. He goes on to discuss stadium etiquette—when mooned by a drunk fat lady “sporting a tattoo and wearing a microscopic thong,” he announces, “This is not what Abner Doubleday had envisioned”—to provide an analysis of sports movies, and to review incompetent team announcers. He considers sports pedagogy and how to teach innocent youth about the rigors of real life (i.e., sports). Not that a game like baseball is a metaphor for life or anything. It’s better than life—and slower, too. (Though not as boring as golf on TV.) Queenan’s no philosophical Roger Kahn or David Halberstam, but he’s got game, especially if cussing and yelling are involved.

A fan’s overstated memoir and undeniably funny, if as protracted as regular season extra innings.