At the 6:25 pm kickoff in Miami last night, you might have been doing what I was doing: looking in the general direction of the television and hoping to absorb football strategy by osmosis because people I care about understand football. You might have even forgotten it was the superbowl.

To 150 million Americans, however, football and sports are neither obligatory nor pointless. David Brooks suggests that Americans conceive of virtue and the moral life through the language and metaphors of sports.  Over at the Wall Street Journal, David Henninger posits that the “pursuit of happiness” has morphed into the “pursuit of fan happiness.”

There are, of course, many sides of fan-dom. Sandlot baseball games and home-team loyalties are a form of loving one’s place. Sporting leagues could even be a form of secondary association. It might be, though, that the the American obsession with professional televised sports is an entirely different animal, a mere simulacrum of membership.


  1. I did homework rather than watch two teams about which I care not and dopey advertising. I am amazed year after year at the zeal, real or feigned, of sports fans awaiting the World Series or Final Four or bowl games. One of my parish preiests, an Alabaman with no ties to Indianapolis or the Colts football team, is an unabashed Colts fanatic who wears Colts hats and jackets and has decorations in his blue-painted office, and I’m amazed that persons like him claim such affinity for teams, including NASCAR teams, though they have no vested interest… and why, when ‘their’ teams fail they are so crestfallen.

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