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Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

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The New York Times bestselling author of Real Food / Fake Food delivers a highly entertaining game changer that uses cutting-edge research to show us why being a sports fan is good for us.     There are thousands of books about sports. This book is about sports fans. Citing fascinating new studies on sports fandom, Larry Olmsted makes the case that the more you identify wi The New York Times bestselling author of Real Food / Fake Food delivers a highly entertaining game changer that uses cutting-edge research to show us why being a sports fan is good for us.     There are thousands of books about sports. This book is about sports fans. Citing fascinating new studies on sports fandom, Larry Olmsted makes the case that the more you identify with a sports team, the better your social, psychological, and physical health is; the more meaningful your relationships are; and the more connected and happier you are. Fans maintain better cognitive processing as their gray matter ages; they have better language skills; and college students who follow sports have higher GPAs, better graduation rates, and higher incomes after graduating. And there’s more: On a societal level, sports help us heal after tragedies like 9/11 and the Las Vegas mass shooting, providing community and hope when we need it most. Even now, the greatly altered games during the COVID-19 pandemic provide socially distanced joy. Illustrated with lively drawings throughout, Fans is the perfect gift for anyone who loves sports or anyone who loves someone who loves sports.  


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The New York Times bestselling author of Real Food / Fake Food delivers a highly entertaining game changer that uses cutting-edge research to show us why being a sports fan is good for us.     There are thousands of books about sports. This book is about sports fans. Citing fascinating new studies on sports fandom, Larry Olmsted makes the case that the more you identify wi The New York Times bestselling author of Real Food / Fake Food delivers a highly entertaining game changer that uses cutting-edge research to show us why being a sports fan is good for us.     There are thousands of books about sports. This book is about sports fans. Citing fascinating new studies on sports fandom, Larry Olmsted makes the case that the more you identify with a sports team, the better your social, psychological, and physical health is; the more meaningful your relationships are; and the more connected and happier you are. Fans maintain better cognitive processing as their gray matter ages; they have better language skills; and college students who follow sports have higher GPAs, better graduation rates, and higher incomes after graduating. And there’s more: On a societal level, sports help us heal after tragedies like 9/11 and the Las Vegas mass shooting, providing community and hope when we need it most. Even now, the greatly altered games during the COVID-19 pandemic provide socially distanced joy. Illustrated with lively drawings throughout, Fans is the perfect gift for anyone who loves sports or anyone who loves someone who loves sports.  

50 review for Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding

  1. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    I was skeptical about this book's premise - that being a sports fan is good for a person's health - going in, and wholly unconvinced by its arguments. I've seen sports fandom warp reality and be generally not helpful. If sports are the new church, I'll politely say "no thank you." I was skeptical about this book's premise - that being a sports fan is good for a person's health - going in, and wholly unconvinced by its arguments. I've seen sports fandom warp reality and be generally not helpful. If sports are the new church, I'll politely say "no thank you."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Anderberg

    “Being a fan seems more than anything else to be a matter of managing responses to things one can’t control. Sports fans are inclined to respond to reminders of mortality with optimism, and to remember victories much more clearly than defeats. There are surely worse ways to live.” Few books have been as unexpectedly fun for me as Larry Olmsted’s bingeable new book, Fans. The premise caught my attention right away, and it was the heartfelt combination of psychological research and powerful convers “Being a fan seems more than anything else to be a matter of managing responses to things one can’t control. Sports fans are inclined to respond to reminders of mortality with optimism, and to remember victories much more clearly than defeats. There are surely worse ways to live.” Few books have been as unexpectedly fun for me as Larry Olmsted’s bingeable new book, Fans. The premise caught my attention right away, and it was the heartfelt combination of psychological research and powerful conversations that kept my attention. Interestingly, Olmsted himself is not much of a sports fan, but he’s enamored with the idea of fandom—that unceasing devotion to a team which inspires the roller coaster of unmatched feelings of elation and despair. I was actually hesitant to buy into Olmsted’s claims, but you can’t really argue with facts. Being a fan forges and fosters true community, offers normalcy in the face of chaos and tragedy, creates all-important foundational rituals, encourages physical activity, enhances cross-generational relationships and long-distance friendships, and offers a healing balm to hurting communities. Olmsted movingly covers the return of baseball after 9/11, the Astros’ championship after Hurricane Harvey, the Saints’ championship after Hurricane Katrina, the Golden Knights’ success after the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. There is a multi-layered dark side to fandom too, which Olmsted addresses: is there any moral downside to being a sports fan? The NFL, in particular, went through some controversy with concussions a few years back (which has, remarkably, been greatly improved by helmet technology) and ongoing sexual and domestic assault problems. How is a fan to weigh those things against the benefits? Most of all, Fans gave me the freedom to lean into my sports fandom. As Olmsted notes early on, fans are generally given short shrift. In pop culture, they’re always portrayed as bumbling bros and intellectually shallow. Anyone with any semblance of sophistication or intelligence couldn’t possibly be a die-hard, jersey-wearing fan. That just ain’t reality though. As much as they pain me, I love my Minnesota Vikings. Though kids inevitably take time away from watching hours of games on Sundays, I eagerly follow their every move and can’t help but love the fantasy season (for baseball too). If you’re a sports fan, this is a must read. If you’re skeptical about sports in general, Fans may help you better understand folks like us.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want an entertaining look at the ways being a sports fan enhances lives. Librarians/booksellers: Purchase for your general sports section, epecially if you are in a large market for team sports. Many thanks to Algonquin Books and Edelweiss for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This book was entertaining overall but I was somewhat disappointed with it. The odd format, with the author defending his thesis to a ski friend, did not work for me. I do think the author showed some balance by mentioning some of the darker sides of fandom, but one he missed IMO is the toxic competitiveness displayed by many parents in youth sports. On a positive note, the author does hit the mark with his description of how college and pro sports fans put aside their differences when they don This book was entertaining overall but I was somewhat disappointed with it. The odd format, with the author defending his thesis to a ski friend, did not work for me. I do think the author showed some balance by mentioning some of the darker sides of fandom, but one he missed IMO is the toxic competitiveness displayed by many parents in youth sports. On a positive note, the author does hit the mark with his description of how college and pro sports fans put aside their differences when they don the home team jersey. The chapter on fan rituals was hysterical and very relatable. Overall I would recommend it to others as a "to read" but not a "must own".

  5. 5 out of 5

    Owen

    I listened to the audiobook version and it was read well. Maybe 4 1/2 stars instead of 4. Detailed discussion of what it means to be a fan the the positive things it does for you. Social (easy to make friends), mental (hope and acceptance, in game analysis), and physical (encourages you to participate.) There are also negative things that might happen, such as an unhealthy and intense dislike for the opposition. On the plus side, it creates a social environment that promotes healthy discussion and I listened to the audiobook version and it was read well. Maybe 4 1/2 stars instead of 4. Detailed discussion of what it means to be a fan the the positive things it does for you. Social (easy to make friends), mental (hope and acceptance, in game analysis), and physical (encourages you to participate.) There are also negative things that might happen, such as an unhealthy and intense dislike for the opposition. On the plus side, it creates a social environment that promotes healthy discussion and relating shared experiences. I'm glad I listed to it. Perhaps a little long for my liking, but still well done.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karina

    Self-proclaimed Socratic, this book offers interviews and information in dialogue format relating to fans of all sports and how they are better persons overall because of their relationship with the game. While not surprising, the insight offered is relevant to me, so I enjoyed this easy read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dunn

    Four stars if you’re already a team sports fan - some pretty interesting and some lighthearted observations. One star if you’re not - why bother. Four for me - Go Browns!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    It can be hard to come by a person who is not a fan of some kind of sports team. In "Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding," Larry Olmsted is on a mission to convince his colleague of the importance of being a fan of some time of sport's team. His colleague is on the other end of the spectrum, assuming that being a fan is a waste of time. Olmsted argues for the importance of being a fan by explaining how and why sports fans are happier, how sports are ente It can be hard to come by a person who is not a fan of some kind of sports team. In "Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding," Larry Olmsted is on a mission to convince his colleague of the importance of being a fan of some time of sport's team. His colleague is on the other end of the spectrum, assuming that being a fan is a waste of time. Olmsted argues for the importance of being a fan by explaining how and why sports fans are happier, how sports are entertainment, how sports alter our brain, and the superstitions that accompany the whole thing. Olmsted backs up his information with case studies, real-life events, and quotes from influential people. "Fans" was educational and an enjoyment to read. I expected the book to be kind of dry, but Olmsted's writing is fresh and catchy. The results of case studies and real-life events made complete sense, it's just not something I had ever pieced together. Each chapter discusses a new way that sports are helpful and necessary, and each chapter leaves me wanting the next one right away.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Turner

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chaitanyaa From Teatime Reading

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Drury

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valerie Fazio

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  16. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Kauphusman

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'neil

  18. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Olson Neffinger

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Weber

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Walery

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nickiemo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becky Turner

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Adams

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine Salvador

  27. 5 out of 5

    natasha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Laverne M

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maryann

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lance

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  32. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Dissinger

  33. 4 out of 5

    David Dunlap

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  35. 4 out of 5

    Traci Young

  36. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  37. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  38. 5 out of 5

    Gina Rios

  39. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Keyatta

  40. 4 out of 5

    Laura I.

  41. 4 out of 5

    Erich Wendt

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Gross

  43. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jim Myers

  45. 4 out of 5

    Marc Rothermich

  46. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Zelenski

  47. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  48. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Feldman

  49. 5 out of 5

    Jww5du85

  50. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Shiraev

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