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A fan spends the Michigan football team’s 2021 season searching for answers about human nature, American history, and the related subject of whether Jim Harbaugh will keep his job.
Being a University of Michigan football fan should be joyful. Michigan is an elite academic institution whose football team boasts 43 Big Ten championships.
But these days, college football is complicated. The NCAA is corrupt and exploitative, and Michigan keeps losing to Ohio State. It’s hard not to wonder, as Slate writer and superfan Ben Mathis-Lilley does in this book: why are we doing this?
The Hot Seat is a chronicle of one of the wildest years in Michigan football history, but also a search for the truth about fandom, from the pages of history books to the wilderness of online forums. Is it embarrassing to care about what happens in a game? Why is Jim Harbaugh like that? Is this somehow Thomas Jefferson’s fault? This book explores all these questions, and many more.
Against the backdrop of a quickly changing sport and country, The Hot Seat is an exploration of the all-consuming culture of fandom, and why it matters.
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Ben Mathis-Lilley is a senior writer for Slate.com, where he writes blog posts, columns, and feature stories about news, politics, and sports. He worked previously at New York magazine and, briefly but gloriously, as the editor of BuzzFeed’s sports section. He lives in New Jersey.