I want to describe Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in as few words as possible, but that’s difficult for me to do because I relate to it from the very essence of my sports being. If I could be sure that everyone who reads this had also seen the Jimmy Fallon-Drew Berrymore movie with the same title, then the task would be easier.
Fallon essentially plays Hornby, who writes autobiographically about his personal obsession with the English soccer club Arsenal. Only Fallon is a Red Sox fan, which makes it more accessible for American audiences. Given that the movie is a very loose interpretation of the book and that Fallon can’t encompass the brooding nature of a Hornby character, the movie still gets it right.
These are artistic representations of what it is to be obsessed with a sports team. In the book, Hornby describes how every milestone of the first 30 years of his life are attached to memories he has of Arsenal.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders, specifically the football team, are my Arsenal.
And this came out in sort of an obnoxious way on Saturday as I was finishing up covering the West Virginia at Texas Tech football game for an internet sports website. (Disclaimer: I know it seems like a conflict of interest for me to be covering a Texas Tech football game. Perhaps I should write a series of essays on how this works in reality, but for now I’ll just claim that most of the time sportswriters have a preference for which team they would like to see win. The trick is to write in such a way that the interest doesn’t seep into the copy. Or at least that it doesn’t seep into the copy in an offensive way).
ANYWAY, Texas Tech pulled off a dramatic 49-14 upset of the fifth-ranked Mountaineers. As I was riding the elevator up to the press box following the postgame press conference, a stadium worker remarked that Texas Tech had never played better than they did that day.
“Well, they played well. But you have to consider the Texas game in 2008 or the Cal game in the Holiday Bowl (in 2004),” I replied. I could have gone on for an hour. But, fortunately for everyone, I only had a precious few seconds to spout my views.
The elevator doors opened to the press floor and as I exited, I could sense the stadium worker looking at me and perhaps thinking “I really wasn’t asking for your opinion, but thanks for belittling my comment.”
However, as Hornby points out in Fever Pitch, we can’t help it.
Whether its obsession with a soccer club or a college football team or even rock music or beer or coffee or literature, obsessives are the most obnoxious people. We refer to ourselves as snobs (“Sorry, I’m such a beer snob,” we might say in a faux-self-deprecating way). But we’re not snobs. We’re people who can’t help sharing our expert opinions because we’ve worked so hard for them and need for other people to acknowledge our expertise.
The only problem is that other people mostly don’t care.
The photo with this blog is by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images and found at bleacher report.
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