With the beginning of the football season, I thought it would be fun to read a book that focuses on the sport, or rather the fans of the sport. Stuart Stevens, travel writer and political consultant, grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, in a family of ardent Ole Miss Rebels fans. Stevens and his dad went to many of the team’s games together, both at home and on the road. But then life happened, and the shared trips to the football stadium happened less and less frequently, until Stevens suddenly realized that he might not have that much time left to watch football games with his 95-year-old dad.
So Stevens took some time off to take his dad to each Ole Miss game of the 2013 season, and this book is the result. It is quite a heartwarming read. There are, of course, lots of anecdotes about being a football fan, realizing your parents are indeed old, traveling with old people, and organizing road trips in general. They are interspersed with memories of growing up in a segregated South and the changes that came during the civil rights era. It is all tied together by the obvious love Stevens has for his parents, and from what I can tell, he is indeed very lucky to have them. (When Jackson closed all public pools after the order to desegregate, his parents build a pool in their backyard for all neighborhood kids to use.)
While I recognize football team jerseys and names, I am not a big football fan. I grew up in a country where football means soccer, so some part of me will always wonder what exactly compels people to jump all over each other to get to a ball that’s not even round. But I still really enjoyed reading this book because it often reminded me of the times growing up when my dad would take me to sports events. Granted, cheering for a volleyball team or at a track and field event is much less noisy than cheering for a soccer or football team, but the sentiment behind it is all the same. There is something exhilarating about being with people who are there for the same reason: to cheer on a team and to celebrate or suffer with their favorite athletes.
This touching tale of a father-son relationship and their shared love for a football team reads quickly and is sure to appeal to many people, not just sports fans.
Are you a big sports fan? Do you have any anecdotes about rooting for your favorite athlete/team?
*I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read program.