Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Will Leitch: God Save The Fan

Sports writing probably didn't need its own version of Chuck Klosterman, since Klosterman does a good job writing about sports himself, but there's always room for one more scribe with clear eyes and a keen wit to flout the conventional wisdom. In 2005, reluctant sportswriter Will Leitch founded Deadspin, a blog dedicated to talking about sports from an irreverent, fan-friendly perspective, primarily by mocking the pomposity and arrogance of modern athletes and the jaded pricks who cover them. Now, Leitch has written a sort of 95 Theses of sports, under the title God Save The Fan, with a lengthy subtitle that promises to explain "how preening sportscasters, athletes who speak in the third person, and the occasional convicted quarterback have taken the fun out of sports (and how we can get it back)."


As a blog, Deadspin sometimes betrays its own principles by treating sports so flippantly that the site's writers are the ones taking the fun out of sports. But as a book, God Save The Fan is smart, funny, and largely consistent in its philosophy. Leitch presents a series of anecdotes and essays about players, owners, and the media in which he argues that self-righteousness and excessive corporate control are preventing fans from relating to athletes on a human level. To the people in charge, fans are painted-up alcoholics whose only function is to buy tickets and T-shirts, then shut up. To the media, fans are so stupid that they'll listen to two "experts" yell at each other for minutes on end even though neither blow-dried pundit really believes in what they're saying. But Leitch thinks fans should play more fantasy leagues to help loosen up their loyalty, owners and the media should promote the players who say and do interesting things as opposed to the keenly focused athlete-bots, and all concerned should be less uptight about steroids and bloggers.

If there's a major lapse in God Save The Fan's worldview, it's that Leitch romanticizes "the fan" too much. He conveniently forgets—probably because Deadspin comments are moderated—that fans too often ruin sports by behaving like louts and bigots. But whatever Leitch's self-serving biases, he gets a lot of leeway, if only because he's sharp enough to note that Kansas City Royals fans "consider baseball a link to youth rather than something entirely relevant to life today," and "masturbate to a picture of Bill James." It's funny because it's true.