NOTE: This article is available only in the print version of the January-February 2000 Utne Reader. See back-issue ordering information.
QUOTES FROM ARTICLE:
“ ‘One of the great mistakes of superficial observers is to believe that players do all the work while fans merely sit passive and “vicariously” have things done for them,’ philosopher and sports devotee Michael Novak has written, describing his own experience watching football as ‘an ordeal, an exercise, a struggle lived through.’ Football was a workingman’s way of resisting being sidelined, even as he sat in the stands.”
“The Massillon boosters had backed their team with such enthusiasm because it was a way literally to give a boost, a leg up, to the next generation; they had embraced their role as supporters because it allowed them to father a team. A generation later, fans like Big Dawg were seeking exactly the opposite; they were looking for a team to father them. For these new-era fans, the hope was that the team would be their boosters.”
“The new male fans, the ones the advertisers salivated over, were increasingly not in the stands. By the ’80s many of them would be huddled at sports bars, gazing up like so many worshippers at the TV pulpit posted over their heads, framed by Bud Lite signs.”
Part of January-February 2000 cover story section.
Article adapted from Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (William Morrow, 1999). Susan Faludi is a Pulizer Prize-winning journalist and the author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.