Under the Influence

Not what you think.

Today in my core seminar we were discussing texts that influenced our perspectives on our subject whether they were geographical or not. That left me a lot to think about, as I have read quite a few book in my subject area, but a number just outside it that have influenced me too.

If I were to trace the origins of my project back to its source I think I’d have to give the credit to Nick Hornby. In “Fever Pitch”, he explained his love of his team in a way that I understood from my own childhood obsession with the Calgary Flames. It helped that we shared the same Premiership team, but it put the idea of being a fan and that it meant more than being a fan into my head. I wanted to understand why the game over there meant so much more than sport over here.

I turned to Franklin Foer next. His soccer started to explain the world to me, but it was clear that he had also been influenced by another that came before him, Simon Kuper. I’ve read “Soccer Against the Enemy”, “Soccernomics”, and “Soccer Men”. In all his books I’ve felt that understanding the sport and the passions it stirs in its fans is a legitimate line of research. For the history of the game I turned to David Goldblatt’s “The Ball is Round” which is simply the most comprehensive history available.

Outside of texts, I’ve played enough Football Manager (computer game) to drive my wife nuts with me watching small dots chase each other around on the screen. She can’t understand why I’d find a game where I don’t actually play the match so enthralling, but apparently she’s not alone with it being cited in 35 divorce cases.

Then there is my wife herself. She’s obviously a huge influence on my research. The poor woman has had to put up with endless one sided conversations about the importance of certain acts of fandom from around the world. She also had to suffer through becoming a Saturday morning widow (although she has come to appreciate her new found solitude), and watching her oldest son succumb to the same soccer affliction that his father has. But beyond her suffering, I’ve watched her do her own research for years, read over drafts and seen her go through the ups and downs of the research process; it has stirred me into following my own interests and she’s always supported me since I decided to do this.