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A Chronicle of Higher Education Top 10 Best College-Sports Books Ever**
"St. John offers an unsurpassed blend of scholarly heft (he's gathered all of the scattered research on sports fandom), superb reporting (among those we meet is the Alabama fan so full of hate toward Tennessee that he'd root for "Notre Dame, Russia, and the University of Hell before the word 'rocky top' would ever come out of my mouth"), and gemlike writing (St. John knew Alabama would beat Vanderbilt on a brutally hot day as soon as he saw Vandy's 'photon-slurping black jerseys')."--The Chronicle of Higher Education, Chronicle Review
What is it about sports that creates fan mania? Why does both winning and losing sometimes drive people to violence? In short, why do fans care so much--and care so intensively?
In search of the answers to these questions, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game across the South. A movable feast of Weber grills, Igloo coolers, and die-hard fans, these caravans are driven by a sort of groupthink, complete with shared superstition and unconditional commitment. Some of the characters encountered in the caravan include: Freeman and Betty Reese, who skipped their own daughter’s wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat, the Episcopalian minister who watches the games on a television set beside his altar while performing weddings; and Paul Finebaum, the Anti-Fan, a wisecracking sports columnist and talk-radio host who makes his living mocking Alabama fans--and who has to live in a gated community for all the threats he receives in response.
Along the way, St. John delves into the deep roots of humanity’s sports mania (for example, he talks about how tailgaters could be found in eighth-century Greece), the psychology of crowds, and the surprising neuroscience behind the thrill of victory.
St. John also becomes one of the crowd: he buys an RV and joins the caravan for a football season; consequently making this a firsthand account of the world of the extreme fan--or fanatic.
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is ultimately a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to achieve victory--albeit vicariously.
**THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION'S 10 BEST COLLEGE-SPORTS BOOKS EVER
The books listed have most of the following qualities: richness of content, grace and clarity of writing, persuasiveness to the specialist, and interest to the nonspecialist. The very best of them either introduce a fascinating new subject or reveal overlooked aspects of a familiar one.