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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

From Mascot to Danger

From Mascot to Danger

(p.143) 6 From Mascot to Danger
The I in Team

Erin C. Tarver

University of Chicago Press

Sports fans love to hate. This chapter examines the distinctions between fans’ moral judgment, hate, and ressentiment, and their contemporary practices of rejection of individual players. It argues that contemporary fan “haterade” for individual athletes—a sentiment that is the reverse of hero worship—exposes the racialized character of sports fandom in the contemporary United States, revealing a deep anxiety about black masculinity. Fan antipathy for star players often results when players act in ways that prevent them from being instrumentalized as mascots. Looking at the cases of LeBron James, Richard Sherman, and Michael Vick, I argue that black men who do not conform to fan expectations of mascots are treated as dangerous, either as criminal threats to the community (“thugs”) or as a contagion that threatens to consume the healthy body of good (white) society. The ease with which players move from mascot to danger in the eyes of fans illustrates just how tenuous the relationship between white fans and black male athletes is.

Keywords:   haterade, mascotting, Michel Foucault, hate, white anxiety, sports fans, black masculinity, danger, Michael Vick, LeBron James

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