Unable to skate and surrounded by sports fans who cared more about Evel Knievel than hockey, Kevin Cunningham became obsessed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a confused eight year old. He has no idea why. Yet from that moment on he embarked on a fan’s journey that absorbed his childhood, destroyed his GPA, and made him seriously weigh romance against an away game at Calgary. What explains this fascination?
Home Ice combines memoir and history to explore how the mysteries of Blackhawks fandom explain big questions like tribal belonging, masculinity, and why you would ever trade Chris Chelios. In recounting the team’s—and his own—wins and losses (and ties), Cunningham covers everything from Keith Magnuson’s bachelor pad to the grim early aughts to Patrick Kane’s Cup-winner. Throughout, he explores how we come to love the things we love. Funny and touching, Home Ice is one Blackhawk fan’s attempt to understand why sports fandom is utterly ridiculous and entirely necessary.
There is one sound that will always be loudest in sports. It isn’t the squeak of sneakers or the crunch of helmets; it isn’t the grunts or even the stadium music. It’s the deafening roar of sports fans. For those few among us on the outside, sports fandom—with its war paint and pennants, its pricey cable TV packages and esoteric stats reeled off like code—looks highly irrational, entertainment gone overboard. But as Erin C. Tarver demonstrates in this book, sports fandom has become extraordinarily important to our psyche, a matter of the very essence of who we are.
Why in the world, Tarver asks, would anyone care about how well a total stranger can throw a ball, or hit one with a bat, or toss one through a hoop? Because such activities and the massive public events that surround them form some of the most meaningful ritual identity practices we have today. They are a primary way we—as individuals and a collective—decide both who we are who we are not. And as such, they are also one of the key ways that various social structures—such as race and gender hierarchies—are sustained, lending a dark side to the joys of being a sports fan. Drawing on everything from philosophy to sociology to sports history, she offers a profound exploration of the significance of sports in contemporary life, showing us just how high the stakes of the game are.
The issue of Native American mascots in sports raises passions but also a raft of often-unasked questions. Which voices get a hearing in an argument? What meanings do we ascribe to mascots? Who do these Indians and warriors really represent? Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black go beyond the media bluster to reassess the mascot controversy. Their multi-dimensional study delves into the textual, visual, and ritualistic and performative aspects of sports mascots. Their original research, meanwhile, surveys sports fans themselves on their thoughts when a specific mascot faces censure. The result is a book that merges critical-cultural analysis with qualitative data to offer an innovative approach to understanding the camps and fault lines on each side of the issue, the stakes in mascot debates, whether common ground can exist and, if so, how we might find it.