UBC Graduate Research

Fandom at a Fever Pitch: Nick Hornby, Bill Simmons and Imagined Athletic Communities Kalman-Lamb, Nathan


Graduate student conference held December 4-5, 2009 at the University of British Columbia. Panel 3: Spectators and Sporting Goods - The Social Psychology and Political Economy of Sports moderated by Guido Schenkel. Abstract: "In this paper, I interrogate some of the reasons why spectator sport becomes such a compelling form of distraction. To this end, I conceptualize communities of fans as imagined communities along the lines articulated by theorists of nationalism Benedict Anderson, Anne McClintock, and Romila Thapar. I argue that in societies marked by capitalist alienation and isolation, desire for community prompts individuals to turn to the pre-fabricated communities of professional sport. I will attempt to demonstrate how the imagined athletic community functions analogous to other forms of imagined communities through readings of two recent memoirs of fandom: Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch and Bill Simmons’ Now I Can Die in Peace. Both of these texts reveal some of the mechanisms of imagined athletic communities. They also disclose the insidious implications of this form of community: there is always another team that one is better than and opposed to, for by becoming a part of a particular imagined athletic community, one becomes the antagonist of all similar but opposing communities." This presentation can be found at 00:44:36 - 01:05:00 in the recording.

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