Sunday, October 25, 2015

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an English professor and a football fan at Florida State. Her new book is Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.

From her Q & A with Steve Almond at Salon:

Early on in “Tribal” you talk about how fandom “takes the edge off this painful self-examination, offering a kind of energetic clarity.” But the book complicates the experience of fandom, by suggesting all the toxic attitudes and outcomes football fosters. Does the game still provide you with that clarity?

I can still disappear into the hold-your-breath moment of the game. I holler. I cheer. I sing. I clap. If I’m home watching on television, I coach. I’m really good at calling plays when nobody can hear me. It’s so comfortable and fine to belong, to be part of the tribe, to know that the people around you in the stadium — people who don’t see the world as you do, who might hate your politics — will share the general triumph when your guys score. For a moment, you’re all one family.

It’s why people join churches, political parties, sororities, fraternities, gangs, book clubs. Most of us live tangled in paradox. Loving a college football team is simple and comforting — even when that team loses. When I’m praying that FSU’s quarterback can actually get the ball to that open receiver, I forget all about climate change, Syria and the NRA. When the ball lands in the boy’s waiting hands, the world falls away. Joy takes over.

As a devout fan for many years, I get it. But can I just ask why you decided to open this particular can of worms?

Because it’s my can of worms. I’m trying to figure out how and why this absurd (and gorgeous and thrilling and destructive) game has such a hold on me and other people. I’m particularly interested in the way we often love things that aren’t good for us: chocolate, booze, narcissists, football.

I’m also a product of my culture — a culture I...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue