There IS a lot about sports that is just so absurd and funny, and I agree with the author that you won't find these stories in regular print and TV media, and most especially on ESPN. Deadspin, as the best known and most widely read of these websites, serves as a common hub for other bloggers to pass on the stories they uncover that fans won't hear about on ESPN, other networks, and in the papers. For example, NPR's Scott Simon interviewed Leitch last weekend about the book, and after reading a few of the jokes about blacks and gays, ended the interview by telling Leitch that "he had a problem." I was irritated as I listened to that, as it showed me how out of touch NPR and the mainstream news media is with the types of people who really, really get into sports. I admit that at times it feels a little like Leitch is writing down to the lowest common denominator of his audience, but to his credit he includes several chapters in which he calls out fans, athletes, and the media for their lack of reality in accepting the idea of gay athletes or for their double standard in how they embrace and perceive the efforts of black athletes and white athletes. For those who are Deadspin fans (are there any others here at Goodreads????), you will be happy to know that, from what I can tell, this book is about 75% new material, and that which does come from directly from the website adds new background information on how Will or other bloggers picked up or made editorial decisons about how to present some of the more famous stories, such as You're With Me Leather, Carl Monday, and the KSK-Peter King feud. And for those who know the Barbaro message board story, I was quite disappointed that this chapter was so short and near the end of the book...this was Deadspin's finest moment of sheer humor and absurdity, in my opinion. Throughout all of the funny stories and jokes, Will Leitch makes many a ton of insightful comments about why we, as the fans, are in the end responsible for everything that we claim to dislike about sports.
After reading this book which would have been much better published on a roll with perforations between each page, I think I know where his site got its name. For a moment, I thought maybe Deadspin was trying to be the sports version of The Onion, but peeling back the layers of journalistic abuses during Super Bowl Week in South Beach, slicing through accounts of his three-year old sisters racism, chopping up preconceptions of John Rocker or Michael Irvin (former athletes who were crucified by the media for racist remarks, even though they were from opposite sides of the black/white spectrum), and dicing through the material on how jingoistic (and worthless) the Olympics are certainly did have me tearing up as though I were preparing onions. One was a parody of the stupid, soft focus, human interest stories in Olympic coverage and the other was when he explained what some athletes like Kurt Warner and Zach Johnson mean when they say that Jesus helped them (If only hed been there for Tim Tebow while John Elway was playing Judas to Tims Jesus.).
This reads as if it was a pasteup of material written by a full time sports columnist.
I can wholeheartedly get behind the railing against the sports-industrial complex and its self-interested whitewashing tendency that forms Leitch's central theme.
There's plenty amusing and nothing too earth shattering, though now I know that about 2/3rds of the sports broadcasters (and print guys too!) are lecherous assholes. Yes, he's made his living writing about sports, but he's entirely cognizant of its unimportance in the world and is only participating in about half-dozen fantasy leagues cuz it's fun. Case in point: For the US Open golf tournament last week NBC had seven guys covering the event. Regarding his description of Colts fans: "Silently prefer Tom Brady anyway." To that I retort with a resounding NO FUCKING WAY. That Michigan douche can take a long walk off a short pier in Cape Cod. Of course, this may only apply to that small Colts/Buckeyes crossover demo.To his description of Indiana Pacer fans*, I would add the following: Never really paid attention the team after Reggie Miller left (tears were shed for his last game) and still maintains an intense hatred for the Knicks, if only for his sake, but also because of Isiah Thomas who ruined both teams.
This book is basically a series of essays showing ways in which the corporate control of sports, has taken the game away from casual and passionate fans. He makes a good case for how professional atheltes are nothing like the normal human beings who cheer for them "If you knew them in real life, you wouldn't like them, they wouldn't like you" This chasm, which separates athletes from their fans, is attempted to be bridged by the sports media, in particular, ESPN. He has one story about what it is like to be a fan of the baseball Cardinals in NY, and a few stories about what it's like to root for one of the worst teams in the leauge, by cheering for the football Cardinals. Will makes the argument that the team only plays a few home games a year, and most professional athletes don't actually live in the city they play in after the season is over anyway.
Leitch is the proprieter of deadspin.com, sort of "The Onion" for sports fans, and his wit certainly gets his point across.
The cover claims to have the answers, but ultimately all it really contains is some funny stories without much of an attempt to help fans cope with today's professional-sports-bullshit while still enjoying the nature of televised athletic competition.
For every hilariously astute observation on the absurdity of being a sports fan, there are a dozen cheap jokes that could be pulled right out of the Deadspin comments Will Leitch makes every effort to disown.