Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

Larry Olmsted. Algonquin, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61620-846-2
Journalist Olmsted (Real Food/Fake Food) dives into the benefits of sports fandom in this ambitious if flat narrative. Drawing on the research of Daniel L. Wann, a psychology professor at Murray State University, Olmsted asserts that false stereotypes—such as “the corpulent lazy guy” sitting on the couch, or “the screaming, face painted, jersey-wearing maniac”—abound, when in reality, he writes, fandom helps to meet basic psychological needs, such as “higher self-esteem, less bouts of depression, less alienation; more friends; and higher levels of trust.” He also discusses how sports can heal communities, citing how fans of the Las Vegas Golden Knights found a kind of solace in the hockey team’s success after the mass shooting at the city’s 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. As Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman told Olmsted, “The pain was so deep.... Then for the Golden Knights to have that season and start the healing process, the timing was incredible.” Olmsted’s points, individually, are intriguing, but the author hits home over and over again his premise that sports fans are more than just jersey-wearing followers, resulting in a fairly one-note and monotonous narrative. This isn’t one to stand up and cheer for. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2020
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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