I was thinking it might be a bad idea to give this book a bad review, because Will Leitch is an all powerful godfather of the sports internet, who can deem a fortunate soul a made man or, just as easily, crush a site into small little shreds of HTML code, and I didn’t want that fate for myself.
(Which it wouldn’t, because no one knows this site exist and that’s the way we’re keeping it, but pretend for a second.)
I thought about it some more, and remembered Leitch is also a unrepentant spawn of central Illinois. Worse still, he’s a Cardinals fan. I don’t know enough Cardinals fans to hate them, I’ve been fortunate that way, but I completely understand why people might every time he puts up a post about that bunch or the Cubs.
And then I thought even more – lot of time to think today, I guess – and recalled that I liked the book so all of this preamble was space filler to obscure the lack of actual “review”.
The book mirrors the voice of the site. Outside of the (now annotated) John Rocker conversation, it’s all new content, but the ideas and concepts are things which have hit upon before. It’s as if Deadspin had been a twice weekly column for the last few years instead of multiple daily blog posts, and the final product was this book.
I know that makes it sound repetitive, and there’s definitely moments where it feels like like a rereading if you’re a daily reader of the site (I am, since the early days), but it more indepth and fully formed than the blog posts. “[ESPN does something dumb]”, becomes “[an example of ESPN doing something dumb, how they and us got there, and where this leaves us]”. (It’s not all about ESPN, even though my next example will make you think it is.) The short “downfall of Baseball Tonight” subarticle is great in this one; Will’s addressed parts of the problem at different times, but it’s all laid out into one cohesive discussion here.
The steroids justification article was the least of the book. Yes, at a time where PED have no bad side effects, no one would have a problem with it. I’m not sure it’s totally possible we’ll get there – even as the risk is lowered to a ‘safe’ level, they’ll switch to a new drug with new risks if the benefit seems high enough – but more so, it’s not the world we’re living in. The internal fan argument at the moment “do I care about athletes taking PEDs if it means less/worse life for them?”, and I think the answer for some fans is “no, until I realize you weren’t kidding about less/worse life.” But then I’m coming from as someone, unlike Will, who knows what “katie bar the door” means.
God Save the Fan is a good read for anyone who’s interested in the modern relationship between fans and the sporting institutions they follow.