The Mind of the Sports Superfan


Most sports fans root for their favorite teams. Then there are those who build their entire lives around them. These are the people who go shirtless in a football stadium on a freezing day, who paint their faces and get custom tattoos of their favorite N.B.A. players, who scream jubilantly at the television in victory—and who sometimes smash that television in defeat. The Oregon-based writer George Dohrmann spent three years travelling the country interviewing sports diehards to write his book “Superfans: Into the Heart of Obsessive Sports Fandom,” which will be published this month. Dohrmann argues that the United States has become a nation of sports diehards, in which fans are groomed very young and team affiliation can be just as important to people as their religion or their job.

In “The Psychology of the Superfan,” part of our “Obsessions” video series, which documents cultural fascinations, Dohrmann looks at some of the nation’s most devout fans and discovers something hopeful about their devotion to their teams. “It’s one of the few things left in our society that bridges our divides,” Dohrmann says. “And, in that way, our fandom is really important.”

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