The Tortured Soul of Sports Fandom

In the midst of my exuberance over the NBA, I forgot that the owner of my favorite football team likes to say things like this:


"I see the talent level being able to put us in a competitive situation for the Super Bowl," Jones told reporters Friday during the annual powwow on his luxury bus at the NFL scouting combine. "I saw it at the start of that [2010] season and I see it with what we had last year, that there's a talent level that can compete for a Super Bowl."

When I first read this, I thought "Jones sounds like he's selling a product." And then I realized that that's exactly what he's doing. The thing about the language here is that Jones sounds like he's selling a product. 

To be clear there's nothing wrong with promoting your team, a task which can be tackled in a variety of ways. My favorite path involves recruiting talent, beating other teams with that talent, and then letting SportsCenter handle its business. Of course, in Jerry's mind, "talent" means "skill positions" and sometimes not even that.

It's funny. I was toying with tying myself to a basketball team this season. But I almost enjoy the sport more without the investment. When you don't much care who wins, it's a lot easier on the body--and for me enjoyable. I have enough stress in my life. No need to go searching for more.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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