by Warren St. John
First sentence: “At some point in the life of every sports fan there comes a moment of reckoning.”
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First, a disclaimer: I am a college football fan. (University of Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!) So, naturally, I was curious about this book. Sure, it’s about the Alabama Crimson Tide, but to a great extent football is football is football, and a fan’s experience is pretty much the same.
However, reading this book had two effects on me: first, it made me question my actual fan status. See: I’m not nearly the fan that these people are. St. John is a lifelong Crimson Tide fan and became interested in the psychology of sports fan. However, this is not a pop psychology book; rather, as St. John finds a crowd of fans (maybe it’s a Southern thing?) that follow the team during the season in their decked out RVs, it becomes more of a travel book.
At first glance, these fans are insane: who in their right mind would spend so much money (one man spent $1.4 million) on a traveling hallway just in order to be near the stadium of their favorite football team. But as the book progresses, you come to admire their dedication to the team and to the game. They are a community: granted, one that meets just for 12 weekends a year, but they have a common bond, which makes the temporary nature of the community irrelevant. They are fans in an intense, life-consuming way. And I wondered: if I wasn’t willing to put my allegiance to my team out there as loudly as they are, can I even really call myself a fan?
As the book goes one, I found myself respecting the RVers. They have a dedication to their team — to the game — that is unparalleled. They are fully invested in football, which is superficial, yes, but is also something that bonds people together. As St. John travels with the group (yes, he does buy an RV), he also focuses on the game itself. Though, he writes not from a technical aspect, but more from the experience as a fan in the stands. It’s a personal experience for him, though he does connect with people who are fans to a greater and fans who are fans to a lesser degree than he is. It’s an insightful book, lovingly written; a love story not just to the Crimson Tide, but to all sports fans everywhere.
Which brings me to the second thing the book made me want to do: actually go to a game again. There is something to be said about experiencing the game in a crowd of like-minded people, to be a part of all the fans cheering on their team, experiencing a win (or a loss) together as a group.
If you’re not a sports fan, I’m not sure why you’d pick up this book. But if you are, it’s a fantastic read.