Fanaticus Dramaticus: The Rage Page

Fanaticus Dramaticus: The Rage Page

March 28, 2016

March 09, 2016

I’ll be at the Author’s Pavilion to meet and greet fans of Fanaticus. No admission fee.  Books available for purchase and signing.

Tucson Festival of Books

Author Pavilion – Central
Saturday Mar 12 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
University of Arizona Campus
Tucson, AZ

I’ll be speaking at ASU’s journalism school about Fanaticus and my career in sports journalism. Event is free and open to the public. Books also available for purchase and signing.
Must See Monday: Special Tuesday Event — Becoming the Story: Turning Torment into Triumph with Fanaticus

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 – 6:00pm
First Amendment Forum
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
555 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ


February 11, 2016

gelflogoThis coming Tuesday in New York, I’ll be reading from Fanaticus  at Gelf Magazine’s Varsity Letters Sports Literary Series, as part of Fan Appreciation night along with Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal and Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated.

That’s Tuesday February 23rd 7:30pm
Downstairs at Le Poisson Rouge

158 Bleecker Street NYC, NY 10012
More details here.


December 29, 2015

Over the holidays, I saw a very moving film called “Mustang.” The theater was packed and the crowd seemed mesmerized. This coming-of-age tale tells the story of 5 Turkish sisters and the oppression they face at the hands of a conservative family.  The girls are literally locked in their home, not permitted to go to school and must wait to be chosen for an arranged marriage.

At one point, the sisters  sneak out  to a Turkish soccer match where only women  are permitted to attend after male fans are banned for bad behavior.  The match serves as a momentary respite from their repressive existence. They cheer, they laugh, they bond but then they must return home.  Directed by a Turkish woman Deniz Gamze Ergüven, “Mustang” is nominated for a Golden Globe award for best foreign language film and is on the short list for a similar Oscar nod.  In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, the first-time director explains  that “the story is really like a [fairy] tale, so the match is a bit like the ball all the girls dream of going to.”

Turns out, the “female fans only game” as a radical solution to unruly fans is based on real life. In July 2011, The Turkish club Fenerbahce was ordered to play two home games behind closed doors (without spectators) after its fans stormed the field during an exhibition game against a Ukrainian team.  In a twist on the closed door punishment, women and children under 12 were permitted to attend.  Male fans over the age of 12  were again banned in 2013 from a match.  In 2014, Fenerbahce clinched the league title in front of 40,000 female and youth fans after more bad behavior by male fans.  I loved the film and how the soccer match signified freedom for the girls. I also loved that I learned about a true-life effort to tamp down hooliganism that I had never heard about before.


December 11, 2015

November 23, 2015


Last month I was interviewed for the website Stadium Journey by the funny and knowledgeable Jon Hart. Here’s the Q and A we did.  Stadium Journey is a great resource for sports fans. Click here for the entire piece.


What inspired you to write the book? How long was the entire process? How many places did you visit?


I was inspired by some rabid fans from the Ohio State University who trolled me online when they didn’t appreciate a story I was reporting. The online insults, hateful messages and menacing threats got me wondering about what drives people to these depths. That happened in the spring of 2011, and the book came out in spring of 2015.

I went to a myriad of places and events, from the BCS National Championship Game to a 3rd grade girls basketball game where the focus was more on post-game snacks than anything else. I checked out MLS soccer in the Pacific Northwest, crazy Cubs fan at a favorite Chi-Town hang out, the University of Missouri and University of Oregon student sections. I reported from behind the scenes on game day at an Oakland Raiders game. I grabbed my passport and visited soccer hooligans in England, Belgium and France. But really, that’s my life, I am always on the road for ESPN for some sort of sports world adventure. Producing for ESPN has taken me to all 50 states and every continent but Antarctica. When I am not working, strangely enough, I find myself doing what I do for work: Traveling and going to sporting events.


Were you inspired at all by the classic book, Among The Thugs? How has fandom evolved or devolved since the advent of the internet and social media?


I read that book years ago as I recall for the book club I belonged to about 20 years ago and loved it. So I was thrilled that the author Bill Buford consented to an interview with me for Fanaticus. When I would tell people about the book I was working on, people uniformly responded with their love for Buford’s book. I knew then I was on to something with my topic.

We walk around now with incredible computing power in our hands that is only getting faster and faster. What that means is fans are privy to more real time information, personalized content delivery and souped-up storytelling at our finger tips than ever before which makes this a great time to be a fan. Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, fans also can reach out and communicate directly with their favorite athletes. But there’s a bit of a dark side to all of this. Athletes and their families have been bombarded with vitriol and death threats on Twitter when they screw up a key play. Look at the fan reaction to the Michigan punter whose botched punt lead to Michigan State’s comeback and victory. One fan took to Twitter to suggest it was time for the punter to start chugging bleach. Bad fan behavior gets memorialized online. Outrageous acts like running onto the field, often egged on by the social media conversation make for good internet fodder. Fights at the stadium are YouTube and Vine staples. Those seeking attention can be rewarded with plenty of it thanks to the viral appeal of their acts.


Which places had the worst fans? Who were the most repugnant? Scariest moment for you?


My scariest and most repugnant moments were virtual. I’ve had a couple times where I’ve found myself wandering thru a stadium parking lot by myself during a game or post game and have felt vulnerable as there can be a menacing vibe. People are often drunk, emotions run raw once the game has ended and there’s not a lot of security around. I’ve found since Fanaticus came out, readers like to lobby me with their vote for the worst fans out there. Hint: Lots of votes for fans from a certain SEC school whose unofficial third color is hounds tooth.


Were there any particularly pleasant fans? If so, which stand out?


Most fans are fun loving, welcoming, clever as hell, and just want to talk your ear off about their team. I loved the Italian Ultras I met who not only wanted to share their fandom with me, they wanted to share their culture and heritage. It was all intertwined and by the end of their afternoon together, I felt as though I had made friends for life and would always have a home cooked Tuscan meal waiting for me whenever I was in town. Since Fanaticus’ release, several folks from Ohio have reached out to apologize on behalf of their fan base. I received a much more positive response than I had imagined from that neck of the woods.


If you had to name two or three venues that a fan must visit, which would they be? Why?


Partial to AT & T Park here in San Francisco because the location is stunning. Just bring a jacket. I’m a city girl, and I love heading to a ballpark, arena or stadium that is located in the heart of a downtown and not having to drive out to the suburbs. If I am feeling really energetic, I could walk to a Giants game from my house but usually I opt for public transportation. Lambeau Field because of the history and the cheesehead vibe -bring your thermals. Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud hens, love a good minor league ballpark experience. It’s fun, chill and wacky in ways that other sporting events are not. Full disclosure: I’m doing a book event there on Monday November 9th.


Did any venues stand out as having particularly fine food and beverage?


When I first got to the Bay Area, I was thrilled to find veggie dogs and burgers at both ballparks. But by now, most ballparks have gotten on the veg bandwagon. When I am working at a venue, I try to bring my own healthy food. One of my cameramen consistently teases me about my rabbit food. Press box food is never a great option, and there’s never time to sample the more gourmet choices available on the concourse. When I am attending as a fan, most good microbrew ales make me happy.


You grew up in New York City, which teams did you root for? How intense is fandom in NYC as compared to the rest of the country?


Lets go Mets! It’s so exciting to be a relevant team once again. Giants, Rangers, Knicks. No one would ever label New Yorkers as mellow about anything much less sports. With so many teams to choose from and so much media coverage, passions percolate deeply. Now that I live on the West Coast, often the last thing I do before I go to bed is check the back page headlines of the New York tabs.


What’s next for you? More writing, another book?


I’m still producing for ESPN with a number of big investigative stories in the hopper. Since Fanaticus came out, people from all over reach out to me with their own experiences of fandom and I’m collecting some great anecdotes for a potential Fanaticus Part 2. I also have an idea for a pretty great non-sports book.



October 31, 2015




After Blue Jays’ fans misbehaved, the Sun newspaper chain which is published across Canada turned to Fanaticus for some answers. Click for the story.


San Antonio Express-News columnist Roy Bragg wanted to know why fans lash out on social media.




The Capital Games podcast with ESPN’s Andy Katz and ABC News Rick Klein wanted to talk rowdy Cubs fans:

No shortage of topics to cover when I joined hosts Andrea Kremer, Dana Jacobson, Summer Sanders and Lisa Leslie on CBS Sports Network’s “We Need to Talk.” Watch the segment here.

Finally, I was thrilled to join Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic on his radio show (busy guy) to chat about Fanaticus as well.



October 24, 2015

first third field

You might think I’m brave to go speak about Fanaticus in Ohio but Toledo borders Michigan and is much closer to Ann Arbor than Columbus. Should be a lively audience no matter what.

If this is your area of the country, please join me at Fifth Third Field on Monday November 9th at 7pm for an author conversation.  Address for the ballpark is 406 Washington St. Toledo, Ohio.

Then on Friday November 13th at 7pm, it’s time for another home game this time at Lit Camp’s The Basement Series held at everyone’s favorite sporting goods store, The Sports Basement at 1590 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA.

Here’s a description:

For November, we’re making our theme suit our location. Our published authors will be best-selling author of both fiction and nonfiction, Po Bronson (The Nudist on the Late Shift, What Should I Do With My Life, Nurtureshock), and Justine Gubar, author of the recently released Fanaticus. We’ll also be giving you an opportunity to dive into the sporting life yourself with a special offer from our host, Sports Basement. Free beer & food. $5-$10 sliding scale admission with all proceeds split between Dave Eggers’ Scholar Match and Lit Camp scholarships.

RSVP to the Facebook invite here

Hope to see you down the road!




October 14, 2015

Layout 1


Join me Wednesday evening October 14th at the Hemlock Tavern at 7pm for Going the Distance — Litquake’s evening of readings by various sports scribes. I’ll be reading from a new selection and like most Fanaticus events, you can expect some fun surprises. Tickets are required but will be available at the door.



Then on Saturday October 17th, Lit Crawl breaks out. What is Lit Crawl you ask? From the Litquake website:

Taking a cue from a USA Today report that San Franciscans spend twice the nation’s average on books and booze, in 2004, the festival inaugurated an immediately successful closing night Lit Crawl bacchanal throughout the city’s Mission District.

I am honored to represent the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto along with fellow grotto-ites and authors Chris Colin, E.B. Boyd, Frances Stroh,  and Laurie Ann Doyle. Comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh and author Joshua Mohr host at The Chapel.  Fun begins at 6pm. LC15 square200 sf

Theme of the reading is happy-ish endings. If you think I am reading about a tie score, think again.



September 29, 2015

Listen here to this youth sports podcast on turning the tide on bad sports parent behavior.

From Team

“Unruly. Ugly. And it seems to be getting worse. What is “it”? It’s sports fan behavior. Some days you just can’t believe what you’re seeing in the stands at professional sporting events. But, as Justine Gubar explains in her new book, Fanaticus, sports fans have been misbehaving for centuries. So what’s new? This bad behavior has trickled down into youth sports as well, with parents mimicking what they saw on TV last Sunday at their children’s sports events this Saturday.”