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The Secret Lives of Sports Fans: The Science of Sports Obsessionby Eric Simons
Synopses & Reviews
Sports fandom is either an aspect of a person's fundamental identity, or completely incomprehensible to those who aren't fans at all. What is happening in our brains and bodies when we feel strong emotion while watching a game? How do sports fans resemble political junkies, and why do we form such a strong attachment to a sports team? Journalist Eric Simons presents in-depth research in an accessible and brilliant way, sure to interest readers of Jonah Lehrer and Malcolm Gladwell.
Through reading the literature and attending neuroscience conferences, talking to fans, psychologists, and scientists, and working through his issues as part of a collaboration with the NPR science program RadioLab, Eric Simons hoped to find an answer that would explain why the attractive force of this relationship with treasured sports teams is so great that we can't leave it.
"Simons (Darwin Slept Here), a fervent supporter of the Univ. of California's football team and the San Jose Sharks, examines the passionate, sometimes intense, behavior of sports fans, whether it's voluntarily enduring another season of a team's futility or dressing up for a game like it's Halloween. Adroitly mixing research with feature reporting, Simons unveils some intriguing discoveries. That sense of dread you get watching a play unfold? That comes from the brain's mirror neurons, which make seeing an action feel similar to performing an action. Fans not only identify with a team, but with the values of its fan base, which Simons shows by talking to the docile, charitable members of Raider Nation. And the reason why Cleveland fans keep subjecting themselves to their teams' endless misery, Simons argues, is because they know 'that short-term negative costs have long-term positive benefits' — otherwise known as pride. There's a lot of science to digest, but Simons's affable writing style — and his great eagerness to profile actual people, including himself — infuses the data with heart and soul. 'Sports,' Simons writes, 'can be a kind of laboratory for exploring the way we're constructed and why we operate the way we do.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Eric Simons is the author of Darwin Slept Here (published by Overlook). He is a contributor to NPR's RadioLab, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others, and he teaches at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in San Francisco.
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