Diehards: Why Fans Care So Much About Sports

Diehards: Why Fans Care So Much About Sports

by CHIP SCARINZI and foreword by Josh Pahigian




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Diehard sports fans are arguably the beating heart of the sports industry. In good times and in bad, they file into stadiums and arenas of all shapes and sizes ready to expend financial and emotional currency on a hobby that goes horribly wrong half of the time.

Does the payoff from the good times – the thrilling victories, championship glory and miraculous performances – outweigh the trauma inflicted by the bad? Why do diehards invest so fully in sports teams and players when that commitment, love and adoration is seldom reciprocated – if ever?

Through the lens of baseball, Diehards unravels the mystery of sports fans and provides context for what fuels the evolution from casual fan to diehard. In Diehards, Chip Scarinzi canvasses experts about the impact of sports fandom on fan psyche, health, and family life while also sharing personal accounts of deep-seated sports passion from the most dedicated of fans.


“For the true fan of baseball, reading Diehards is like sitting in your season seats and trading stories of euphoria and defeat with the other fanatic regulars around you. Scarinzi is amusingly confessional and unapologetic about his own fandom as he explores the social and psychological causes and effects of loving a sport and a team. He is one of those overly informed, nostalgic and even romantic bleacher creatures that are the characteristics of baseball lovers everywhere, yet he cleverly couples anecdotes and historic moments with quantitative data and cultural analysis to make this a very smart and authentic take on baseball’s place in the cultural fabric of America. Diehards  confirms for every true baseball lover that they are not crazy, or at least not alone in their fanaticism for the game. If you list your bobblehead collection in your will, this book is for you.” – Heidi Watney, MLB Network

“Through this fine book – that is as lively and humorous as it is well researched and insightful – Chip Scarinzi has brought me to a deeper understanding of my own obsession. The author does a remarkable job deconstructing the excitement, joy, frustration, heartbreak, and range of other emotions sports bring into our lives.” – Josh Pahigian, author of The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip and 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out

“Ever wonder why you are so crazy about your sports teams? Diehards puts you in the Psychiatrist’s chair to find the answer. Why do diehards invest so fully in sports teams and players when that commitment, love and adoration is seldom reciprocated – if ever? Chip explores the most passionate of fans with insight from experts in fields like anthropology, sociology, and psychology, essentially creating a psychological portrayal of the diehard fan. He dissects the brains of diehards, investigates their place in society, and examines some of the health implications. Analyzing the fan psyche is intriguing and essential to the story, but the heart and soul of Diehards is the cast of characters Chip meets along the way: Superfan Will MacNeil, ‘Banjo Man,’ Father Jim Greanias, along with the long forgotten St. Louis Browns and ‘Baseball Heaven’ in St. Louis.” – Scott Butler, Editor of Phils Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies [Read full review.]

“In Diehards, Chip explores what it is that makes the fans in places like Philadelphia and Oakland so passionate. What is it that all have in common? What leads us to spend our good money on shirseys, and often act out at a ballpark in ways we would never consider doing, say, at our workplace or even right in our own backyards? Chip weaves in references to other research, to modern studies on the topic, while instilling the work with his own flavor, which is both understandable and enjoyable to read. Chip covers various areas of fandom over the course of an easy to read 205-page work. From costumed ‘superfans’ and what drives them, to the violence sometimes caused in the name of a team. He touches on big-ticket issues like faith, loyalty and family and how these influence our choices as fans, from the teams and players we root for to the ways in which we act while cheering and following. –Matt Veasey, Editor of That Ball’s Outta Here [Read full review.]


This book gives meaning and a fuller understanding to The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of DefeatI often wonder and try to rationalize why immediately following heartbreaking and emotionally draining losses all I wanted to crawl up in bed sleep away the agony of defeat. I can’t watch Sportscenter after playoff losses or regular season NFL games because I can’t stomach highlights from other teams around the league much less rivals of the Oakland A’s, Raiders or Golden St. Warriors. At times can’t even return texts from friends to breakdown what went wrong that resulted in defeat that day. I just get too worked up and can’t take the wretched agony of defeat. As the final seconds of game 7 of the NBA Finals closed out this past June, I ran out of Oracle as fast as I could without looking back as I couldn’t think of seeing the Cavs celebrate and raise the trophy especially in the Dubs house. And, of course, I b-lined right to bed that night.

On the other hand, the euphoric moments I experience when my team wins the big games is one of the most incredible experiences I can compare in life outside of family, friends and professional accomplishments, milestones, etc. I forgot what it was like to win a championship by one of my teams (going back to the 1989 A’s Championship), and when the Warriors beat the Cavs in the ’15 NBA Finals I stayed up with my wife all night watching the post-game coverage, celebration and ran back the whole game as I couldn’t get enough. The parade down Broadway in Oakland a couple days later when I raised my daughter on my shoulders for two hours to watch the progression of triumphant Warriors in the city I grew up near and love was at the peak of my personal sports fandom. The A’s division games the author, Chip Scarinzi, spoke to in the book had me riding that same rollercoaster of emotion with my friend. I remember also walking around the Coliseum or an hour after the game riding high on emotion after Coco Crips’ walk off hit to win game 4 of the series only to storm out with my head buried in my hat following yet another Verlander display of dominance in game 5 to shatter my dreams.

I don’t cry or throw things at the TV after losses like I did when I was 10 when nothing was more important in my young mind than my team performances, but I still take losses hard and feel like I’m on cloud nine after high-stake wins. And, now after reading Scarinzi’s book Diehards, I have a much deeper understanding of why these volatile emotions cut so deep in the bad time and give you so much satisfaction and happiness in the good times. Every expert he talks to over the course of the book introduces a unique personal perspective backed by experience and in-depth research. And Scarinzi’s own personal experiences adds an important element of color and entertainment that complements all the 3rd party voices he weaves in so eloquently. I ripped through this book cover to cover within days and I’m sure you will too if you’re a diehard sports fan. -S. Cooper

If you love your sport or have a partner who does, I highly recommend you get this book.  While I don’t consider myself a diehard sports fan, I do love baseball, and reading Chip’s well researched book on the subject make me realize I’m am one! A fascinating, insightful and entertaining look at those of us who are “over the moon” for our favorite teams and why we behave as we do. Chip has successfully covered the subject, from the story of superfan Will MacNeil, to team loyalty, crazy costumes and why we love getting together with other fans and yelling for our team. This book is definitely a home run.” – JBookgirl

Diehards is great! The author has a really engaging style and did a great job of expressing and analyzing the highs and lows of being a sports fan. I learned a lot about why I enjoy sports as much as I do and I connected with the experiences (both good and bad) that the author describes in a really captivating way. Definitely recommend this one to anyone who loves sports!” -MT23

Good read – Being a baseball fan, it was an interesting book. –Don

Five Stars – Great book!! –TH


Chip Scarinzi is an award-winning communications executive by trade and a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan at heart. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan, he lives with his wife and two young daughters in the shadow of the O.co Coliseum in nearby Alameda, Calif. Diehards is the manifestation of his own passion for sports and a desire to understand why he and his tribe care so much about games. He is an Athletics season ticket holder, member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and spends most of his free time at the ballpark.

Author can be directly contacted through:

Author photo by Dennis Agatep.

ISBN 13: 978-1-939054-48-7

ISBN 10: 1-939054-48-6

Binding: Softcover, perfect bind

Trim Size: 5.5″ x 8.5″

Pages: 222

Published: September 1, 2015

Categories: Sports & Recreation: Baseball – General | Sports Psychology | Sociology of Sports



Chapter 1 – “What Is Happening In Oakland?”

Chapter 2 – Faith and Fanaticism

Chapter 3 – Psychology and Sports Fans

Chapter 4 – Health Implications of Diehard Fandom

Chapter 5 – Baseball Hell

Chapter 6 – Fans and Human Nature

Chapter 7 – Evolution of a Super Fan

Chapter 8 – Fans and Violence

Chapter 9 – Loyalty

Chapter 10 – Fans and Family Life

Chapter 11 – Sports Fandom and the Brain

Chapter 12 – Celebrate Good Times (Too Much)

Chapter 13 – The Costuming Craze

Chapter 14 – Baseball Heaven

Chapter 15 – Betting on Long Odds



Cover photo by Dennis Agatep.