Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sports Fandom is Modern Religion


The Atlantic – "How Netflix Made Americans Care About the Most European of Sports"

"Before i became suddenly consumed by Formula 1, I knew only one way to become a sports fan, and that was to be born into it. That’s how I came to college football, and specifically to the University of Georgia Bulldogs. My dad went to UGA; I was still in the womb when I attended my first game at Sanford Stadium. College football is part of the Deep South’s culture and factors into millions of southerners’ familial relationships—the only time I’ve ever heard my dad swear at another family member was when my Uncle Joey suggested one Thanksgiving that he might bring me a University of Tennessee shirt at New Year’s. My understanding of myself as a Georgia fan is approximately as integral to my identity as my understanding of myself as an American.

This is not as extreme as it might sound: Sports fandom is one of the primary organizing principles of American social life. Daniel Wann, a psychologist who studies the topic at Murray State University, in Kentucky, once administered a survey asking students to make a list of important things about themselves. Several University of Kentucky basketball fans mentioned their team allegiance before their Christian faith. But that’s not so surprising when you consider that the two things were likely passed down to them around the same time, by the same people. I know plenty of young parents who, somewhat jokingly but also very seriously, began encouraging their babies to say “Go Dawgs” as soon as they began talking."

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