Jonah Lehrer speculates about the neurological basis of fandom:

...when I watch Kobe glide to the basket for a dunk, a few deluded cells in my premotor cortex are convinced that I, myself, am touching the rim. And when he hits a three pointer, my mirror neurons light up as I've just made the crucial shot. They are what bind me to the game, breaking down that 4th wall separating fan from player. I'm not upset because my team lost: I'm upset because it literally feels like I lost, as if I had been on the court.

When my dad would watch an England-France rugby game, he would sometimes literally swoop to tackle the living room rug. And occasionally kick in the air. Most amusing. But at least he knew how to play rugby. So many couch potatoes live entirely vicariously.

(Hat tip: Kottke)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to