True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans

by Joe Queenan

To me, Joe Queenan is the Thomas Poling of contemporary

Let me explain. Tom Poling is a booking agent in Nashville. I first
met him through my work; the work relationship, as occasionally
happens, developed into a friendship. This was due in large part to
the fact that Thomas is a veritable Bartlett's of colorful
expressions, many of which I have unabashedly and unashamedly
appropriated as my own. Another related factor is that I am unable
to complete a conversation with Tom without at some point finding
myself on the floor, laughing and unable to catch my breath at some
acerbic comment he has made.

The same is true of Joe Queenan. Queenan is the anti-Barney, a keen
observer of all those things that prick and irritate the human
spirit, of those things that drag us down as a species. It is
impossible to read anything he writes without experiencing at least
a twitch, if not a full-blown seizure, of painful self-recognition.
You'll be laughing so hard, however, that you won't care.

Queenan's books are either collections of essays or treatises on a
particular subject. TRUE BELIEVERS is a treatise dealing with
sports fans. If you have absolutely no interest in sports, don't
fear; I am not by any definition of the term a "sports fan" (this,
only because mud wrestling is not yet considered a sport) but, like
most people, I am well acquainted with a multitude of individuals
who are. They are all in TRUE BELIEVERS, pinned to its pages like
butterflies twitching on a fourth grader's science fair project
display. The chapter titles tell it all. They include: "Fans Who
Love Too Much", "Fans Who Just Enjoy It", "Fans Who Are Short" (a
chapter for the kids) and my personal favorite, the one that I have
read verbatim to several formerly close friends, "Fans Who

Queenan, in the latter chapter, describes in great detail and with
laser-accurate viciousness the escapades of a couple of individuals
at a baseball game. You can feel the heat, smell the mix of stale
popcorn and rapidly warming beer, and experience the tedium broken
by the antics of the people a few rows in front of you. And it is
more than hilarious. It is breath-catching, heart-stopping,
call-911-I'm-comin'-Elizabeth hilarious. Queenan provides a laugh
like this every page or so. TRUE BELIEVERS should probably come
with a warning label. You don't want to read it within a half hour
or so of consuming a bag of White Castles, one of those new
Enchilada Bowls from Taco Bell, or the Reuben Platter at the Tick
Tock Diner on Route 3 in Clifton, New Jersey. Your laundress won't
appreciate it.

TRUE BELIEVERS is for sports fans, the people who live with them,
the people who love them, and the people who can't stand them. It
is, in other words, the ultimate book for everyone. Very highly

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans
by Joe Queenan

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2004
  • Genres: Humor, Nonfiction, Sports
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador
  • ISBN-10: 0312423217
  • ISBN-13: 9780312423216