How Loyal Are You to Your Sports Team?
—Book Review of Sins of the Tribe
Down here in the south, football is taken seriously. Perhaps more than it rightly should be. You declare allegiance to a college team at birth and stick with them through thick and thin.
Is this a good thing or bad? It depends. Some people love the rivalries; some people hate them. Some people enjoy the mania every fall yet take it in stride. But other people live or die by their team’s win or loss record.
That’s why I wanted to read this new novel by a former college football player Mark Salter, Sins of the Tribe.
Although Salter’s story is about the fictional Bastille University Tribe football team, you could easily substitute the University of Alabama or Auburn University. In Sins of the Tribe, Wally Hestia is recruited to play for Bastille University because he is the sole holder for his fellow teammate and mentally disabled brother Henry, a natural kicking all-star.
All goes well until the team’s coaching staff takes a turn for the worse, opening up Wally’s eyes to the underside of rabid sports fandom and the multimillion dollar industry that it supports.
The novel calls into question how far we’ll go to keep our team on top. At what point does morality draw a line? Or for some people, never come into play?
While the story is centered around sports tribalism, we could easily substitute other tribalisms as well: politics, country, religion, etc.
The novel’s theme of tribalism sounds a dire warning: We need to check who we’re giving our loyalty to.
It’s enough to keep me away from Facebook on game day.
How are the sports fans where you live? Share in the comments.
My thanks to NetGalley
for the review copy of this book.
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In Georgia? There’s no other team but the Dawgs! This book does sound intriguing, Lisa. Thanks for the recommendation!
I’ve never joined a tribe of football nor any other sports. I’ve lived with tribes surrounding me my whole life. People often wanting me to choose sides, but I usually just make a joke. An excellent topic for discussion.
I agree with Martha, this book sounds intriguing. Why is it so easy to lose sight of the fact that football (baseball, basketball, etc.) is just a game? I suppose it comes down to the almighty dollar. An awful lot of money is at stake as teams vie for first place.
I beat we could substitute The Ohio State Buckeyes for this fictional team too. Alabama and Ohio run deep with football don’t they?
I used to LOVE watching pro football, especially the Cincinnati Bengals but I have lost interest in watching any type of professional sports on TV. I do still enjoy the atmosphere of the occasional visit to the ballpark, stadium, or arena.
The Lord convicted me of football a while ago. It was bad. I still love it, but it’s not an idol for me any longer, and I enjoy it more.
I live in Pittsburgh, where the universities have their sports fans at what seems like a reasonable level, but the pro sports are a big deal! I am very disinterested in sports, and it took me about 3 years here (as a college student mostly associating with other students) to get straight which team plays which sport and that “Bucs” is just another name for the Pirates, not another team…. Most years my first clue that a sports season has begun is that the public transit buses, on their digital signs that display a message alternating with the route name, start saying, “GO STEELERS!!” or whatever. If a team is doing well, I start to notice an increase in team merchandise for sale and being worn, and to hear their spirit song being played in public places and passing cars. But the main effect the sports have on me is that if I’m going to the North Side or Downtown (where the stadiums and arena are), it’s best to look up the game schedule to see if roads will be closed, parking scarce, restaurants crowded, science museum closed so it can rent its parking to fans, etc. Also, it’s worth noting the day and time of the Super Bowl because that’s a great time to go shopping for anything except snack foods–stores are almost empty!
I like the sense of regional pride tied to the black-and-gold colors used by all three pro teams. I just don’t care about the sports themselves.
Isn’t it interesting how sports bleed over into so many areas of a city’s life! We visited D.C. in October and didn’t look at their football calendar, but we were made well aware of it the Sunday that the Commanders were playing by the increased traffic on the public transit. Our equivalent of the Super Bowl here in Alabama is the Iron Bowl the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s when the stores get a little quieter for a few hours while everyone is at home watching the game. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this lovely commentary about sports life in Pennsylvania!