A lifelong sports fanatic plumbs the depths of the fan mindset, tracking the mania from the gridiron to the national political stage and beyond.
The Pass. The Curse. The Double Doink. A sports fan’s life is not just defined by intense moments on a field, it’s scarred by them. For a real fan, winning isn’t everything—losing is. The true fans, it’s said, are those who have suffered the most, enduring lives defined by irrational obsession, fervid hopes, and equally gut-wrenching misery. And as Paul Campos shows, those deep feelings are windows not just onto an individual fan’s psychology but onto some of our shared concepts of community, identity, and belonging—not all of which are admirable. In A Fan’s Life, he seeks not to exalt a particular team but to explore fandom’s thorniest depths, excavating the deeper meanings of the fan’s inherently unhappy life.
A Fan’s Life dives deep into the experience of being an ardent fan in a world defined more and more by the rhetoric of “winners” and “losers.” In a series of tightly argued chapters that suture together memoir and social critique, Campos chronicles his lifelong passion for University of Michigan football while meditating on fandom in the wake of the unprecedented year of 2020—when, for a time, a global pandemic took away professional and collegiate sports entirely. Fandom isn’t just leisure, he shows; it’s part of who we are, and part of even our politics, which in the age of Donald Trump have become increasingly tribal and bloody. Campos points toward where we might be heading, as our various partisan affiliations—fandoms with a grimly national significance—become all the more intense and bitterly self-defining. As he shows, we’re all fans of something, and making sense of fandom itself might offer a way to wrap our heads around our increasingly divided reality, on and off the field.
About the Author
Paul Campos is professor of law at the University of Colorado and the author of several books, including The Obesity Myth, Don’t Go to Law School (Unless), and Jurismania.
“A terrific account of the experience of the engaged sports fan. Campos is deeply and broadly informed about sports, of course, but he also thoughtfully and authoritatively weaves in politics, music, economics, criminal justice, and race relations. He consistently and effectively reminds readers of how changes in media and communication have inflected the contemporary fan experience, without ever letting us forget the personal story at this book’s core.” — David Henkin, author of The Week: A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are
"In A Fan’s Life, Paul Campos makes a valiant stab at reconciling his avowedly progressive views on American politics and iconoclastic intellectual pursuits with his lifelong obsession with spectator sports." — Arts Fuse