I’ve been called dedicated, obsessed, mad even for getting up at ungodly hours to make my way to the pub to watch Arsenal FC, but never an addict.
However, that’s kind of what Eric Simons posits in his new book, The Secret Lives of Sports Fans, The Science of Sports Obsession. Having been embedded with the Gooners down at Maggie McGarry’s for a series of matches this season, Eric features the group in a chapter entitled, Addiction: Arsenal in America.
Fear not Gooners, Simons does make a distinction behind the sort of addiction (say substance abuse) that so takes over your life there are negative consequences, but there are similarities in the experiences of sports fans and addicts. But we’re not all about to be packed off to rehab just yet.
There’s much more in Simons’ book (honestly, I haven’t finished it yet). He tackles (no pun intended) sports by looking at it through not just a scientific, but sociological and philosophical lens as well.
Eric does a great job of conveying the sense of community we all feel at the pub, the lows of losing and the highs of winning. He does make one minor factual error in the Bay Area Gooners origin story, as it was a match at Highbury (not the Emirates) that turned me in the
addict fanatic I am today.
This Sunday, Arsenal host the newly crowned league champions, Manchester United. Let’s hope we all leave the pub feeling very high indeed.