hit ’em high! hit ’em low!

Just finished Season of Saturdays, new book about the simultaneous appeal and contradictions–the author is a Penn State alum–of being a college football fan:

Maybe you don’t understand at all: Maybe you attended a liberal arts college in New England, or maybe you grew up in a city where the athletes were professionals (New York, say, or Boston, or Chicago, or London). Maybe the very idea of college football resided at the far edge of your consciousness, a rural preoccupation like Garth Brooks and Peanut Buster Parfaits and moonshine, the province of southerners and state-school graduates and scrubbed fraternity boys in hooded sweatshirts. Maybe the thought of a university’s morale being tied to its football team strikes you as a fundamental failing of American society. Maybe you hear stories about corrupt recruiting and grade-fixing, and maybe you cannot understand how a sport with a long history of exploitation and brutality and scandal can still be considered a vital (and often defining) aspect of student life. Maybe you see it as a potentially crippling frivolity, or as a populist indulgence, and maybe the threat of football encroaching on the nation’s educational system makes you wonder how someone could possibly write an entire book extolling its cultural virtues.

And the thing is, I would like to tell you that you’re wrong, but I also know that you’re not entirely wrong.

College football has been the sport I’ve followed most closely my whole life, but, yes, it feels harder to defend each year.

In any event, the book ends with an acknowledgment to the author’s spouse that I thought was fun for a book that talks a bunch about Big Ten football:

Thanks to Cheryl Maday (Northwestern) for ceding space on our couch all those Saturdays, and for buying the couch in the first place, and for tolerating my often inexplicable college football compulsion (especially during fall weddings), and for not going to Michigan.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

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