If sports fandom were charted on a bell curve, the indifferent would occupy one end, with the seriously obsessed on the other. Author Simons is interested in the seriously obsessed side of the curve, and here he reports on the surprisingly extensive research done on the psychology of being a fan. Sports as empathy—how closely fans identify with their teams—receives considerable attention, as does sports as love, something very different from romantic love. It isn’t lust and it isn’t romance. Other questions are equally provocative. Can sports be truly addictive? Do they provide a group dynamic otherwise unavailable in our increasingly isolated society, particularly in our new social-media world? How about sports as a substitute for war? Simons examines research that explores all these possible dynamics, and, if hard conclusions are generally lacking, he does provide a fascinating glimpse into why sports culture is what it is. Sports fans will find this a powerful tool for self-examination. --Wes Lukowsky
"Simons is open and patient to intelligent theories but skeptical and willing to trust in his own experiences. He is also a bit of a tempered hepcat ... informal amid all the lab work and theory building, yet diligently fashioning a window through which to witness the arch of human emotions and, surprisingly, the degree of choice and control we possess over those emotions.
An intriguing ride through "all the wondrous quirks and oddities in human nature."" -Kirkus Reviews
"Weaving interviews with researchers with his own experiences in stadiums and barrooms, the author succeeds in making some pretty dense subject matter accessible. ... The work stands as a convincing argument that, for many people, their relationship with their chosen team is the most complicated and rewarding one in their lives." -Maclean's
"Eric Simons is the perfect play-by-play announcer for this event, for the simple reason that, as an avid fan himself, he has skin in the game—as well as genes and nerves and dopamine receptors. Simons has a gift for explaining the serious science of sport without losing the edge-of-your-seat thrill and raging despair of the game. Red Barber, eat your pericardium out."--Russ Rymer, author of Paris Twilight
"[Simons] provides a fascinating glimpse into why sports culture is what it is. Sports fans will find this a powerful tool for self-examination." --Booklist