The I in TeamSports Fandom and the Reproduction of Identity

The I in TeamSports Fandom and the Reproduction of Identity

Erin C. Tarver

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226469935

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Why does sports fandom matter so much to fans, who often don’t play the games they watch at all? This book philosophically investigates sports fandom, spanning the fields of feminist philosophy, critical philosophy of race, and philosophy of sport, and in dialogue with the work of sociologists, anthropologists, and historians of sport and popular culture. Sports fandom, this book concludes, is a primary means of creating and reinforcing individual and community identities for Americans today, contributing both to communities’ persistence over time, and to the racial and gender hierarchies that characterize those communities. Sports fandom is a practice of subjectivization: a means by which individuals are both regulated and, at the same time, achieve a sense of their own identities. By analyzing fan practice, history, and discourse (especially in the American south), and by responding to contemporary philosophical and social scientific work on sports fans, this book argues that racial whiteness is reproduced in and through many white fans’ imaginative relation to and ritualized display of men of color, and that normative heterosexual masculinity is reproduced through the practices of sports fandom that more or less explicitly disparage femininity and homosexual desire. Yet, it also concludes that sports fandom is not uniformly oppressive; sports fans are not univocal, and there are marginal forms of sports fandom that constitute genuine glimmers of social resistance.