Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Roger Angell on Being a Fan

In Five Seasons, an excellent compilation of columns he wrote about baseball for The New Yorker from 1972 to 1976, Roger Angell put forward a spirited defense of sports fans.  It seems appropriate to quote him tonight, on the first day of the 2014 World Series:

{B}elonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for.  It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable.  Almost.  What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives.  And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved.  Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

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