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The I in TeamSports Fandom and the Reproduction of Identity$
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Erin C. Tarver

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226469935

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226470276.001.0001

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Sports Fandom as Practice of Subjectivization

Sports Fandom as Practice of Subjectivization

(p.24) 2 Sports Fandom as Practice of Subjectivization
The I in Team

Erin C. Tarver

University of Chicago Press

Although social science literature on sports fandom reduces its appeal to “basking in reflected glory” (BIRGing) and the euphoria of the stadium, this chapter focuses on the everyday practices of sports fans, arguing that sports fandom facilitates the cultivation and reproduction of individual and community identities. In Foucaultian terms, sports fandom is a practice of subjectivization—a means by which individuals both subordinate themselves to a discipline and achieve a sense of their own identities. Just as a religious practitioner obtains new self-knowledge by participating in confession, prayer, and the observance of Lent, the sports fan comes to understand him or herself as a particular sort of person through participation in the daily practices of sports fandom, which include knowledge acquisition, ritual performances, and participation in fan discourse. Through participation in these practices, sports fandom is instrumental in the production of masculine subjects, and of subjects who understand themselves as belonging to a specific (often racialized) community or region—as an “I” who is part of a particular “we.” Examples analyzed include Markovits and Albertson's (2012) study of women sports fans, Ole Miss fans' performance of white southernness, and the use of "we" pronouns in fan discourse.

Keywords:   Michel Foucault, subjectivization, sports fans, discipline, women fans, masculinity, ritual, Ole Miss, BIRGing, CORFing

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