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True Believers

This article is more than 16 years old.

Joe Queenan's a funny guy, and "True Believers" is a funny book. If it were otherwise, readers might be inclined to wonder how he gets away with some of his contradictions. Sports has ruined his life, but his life would be worthless without the games he watches obsessively. Being a sports fan means you're doomed to spend your life in the company of idiots, but "without being able to commiserate with disappointed sports fans from other cities or to take pleasure in the good fortune of others, the fan would wind up a shriveled old prune, an outcast at life's feast." Most of us will give anybody who can make us laugh a lot of leeway, which is probably as it should be.

In one of my favorite cuts-to-the-chase in this book, Queenan asks of the obsession with sports, "What do they get out of all this? Does any of this have any meaning? Or are we just clowning around?" Many pages later, he concludes that "there is nothing better to do with your time. I'm sorry; it is a sad admission for a man who has actually read Ulysses to make, but it is true." This conclusion results from Queenan's own attempt to quit sports cold turkey. He finds he can't do it, so the obsession must be good, right? Well, no. But who cares? He's funny.

This program aired on June 28, 2003. The audio for this program is not available.

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