FanPost

The Whore of Akron


Whore_medium

via www.clevelandfrowns.com


Scott Raab's "The Whore of Akron: One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James" is really mostly about what it's like to be a sports fan when your owner sucks and your team blows. Oh, LeBron James' name comes up often, but the real story is about the hell that Art Model and Dan Gilbert have put Cleveland sports fans through.

In short, it's great reading for Star-less Minnesota sports fans. Here's an example of why:

What exactly was the nature of my faith?

Its depth I knew, or, rather, felt. My wife I love with all my heart, and I would take a bullet for my boy—but decades before I ever met Lisa or saw my son’s face, I lived and died with Cleveland sports. Fanship was essential, a part of me without which I would not have known my soul.

My faith never was mild, and rarely pretty. In junior high, I was a regular caller to Pete Franklin, an early, nasty sports-talk radio avatar. At games, I was an angry jackass. In front of the TV, I was worse—a screaming, cursing asshole. All I wanted was the one thing that my teams always struggled to deliver: a win. In lieu of that, I wanted blood. And this—this wanting, this passion, this
bottomless well of need and furious love—had become my living faith, an elemental way of defining life itself.

The truth that came to me that morning as I sat in the rocker dawned slow and shook me to the core. It was not a crumbling of my faith, which had fed upon a half century of season-ending defeats so naked in their bitterness that they had become national legend, a five-minute reel the networks ran whenever a Cleveland team made it to a big game.*

What shook me was the realization that a fundamental tenet of my faith—a Cleveland team would win another championship during my lifetime—might be wrong.

I began to cry. Quietly, at first. Followed by soft moaning. Soft, I say: I really didn’t want my wife to hear me. But she did, and she came downstairs.

“What’s wrong?”

“They can’t beat Orlando,” I said. “It isn’t going to happen.” She came over to the chair and bent to hug me.

“I’m never going to see it,” I sniffled. “Not even with LeBron.”

“Oh, baby,” she said, pressing my head to her belly.

“You think maybe I could get a handjob?”

And that, I think, sums up the lives of more sports fans than any of us would care to admit. Whether it's LeBron or B-Easy or Darko, our heroes drive us nuts especially in this the age of the portable superstar.

This is the first sports book I've read in decades. Vick Mickunas, an old friend who blogs about books for the Dayton Daily News, turned me on to Raab's book, and then my interest was rekindled when he interviewed Raab for the public radio station in Yellow Springs (an oasis of liberality in hyper-conservative southern Ohio). I don't know if Raab has ever heard of Canis Hoopus, but he'd fit right in with the fans here.

Vick, btw, is a rabid baseball fan. I think this book review and interview were as much for my benefit as his, altho he certainly rekindled his interest in NBA basketball when KG left the Wolves for his beloved Boston (yes, he's a Red Sox fan as well). His readers aren't really into sports but that's OK, Raab's book isn't really about sports. Or rather, what Raab's "Whore of Akron" is all about is all the stuff associated with sports other than the actual, you know, game.

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