There are fans, and then there are fanatics. In this wondrously immersive look at American sports fandom, George Dohrmann travels the country to find out what distinguishes an ordinary, everyday enthusiast from that special breed of supporter known as the superfan. In Minnesota, Dohrmann meets newly minted generals of the Viking World Order, a Minnesota Vikings affinity group organized along military lines. In Oregon, he shares a few beers with a determined soccer fan who amassed—almost singlehandedly—a four-thousand-strong cheering section for the fledgling Portland Timbers. In Illinois, he talks with the parents of a five-year-old boy whose intense hatred of Tom Brady went viral on YouTube. Through these and other intimate profiles, Dohrmann shows us the human faces behind the colored face paint, the real people inside the elaborate costumes who prowl the stands and parking lots at stadiums from coast to coast.
In addition to the fans themselves, Dohrmann also talks with the experts who study them. He uses the latest thinking in sports psychology—some of it learned during a spirited round of miniature golf with a group of professors at the annual Sports Psychology Forum—to unravel the answers to such burning questions as: How does fandom begin? What are its effects on everyday life? When does it go too far?
For everyone who’s ever body-painted their torso with the team colors of their alma mater before heading off to a sports bar—or even just screamed at their television during the NBA Finals, Superfans offers an entertaining and insightful exploration of the many ways human beings find meaning in something bigger than themselves.