A fan’s search for the truth about American history, human nature, and whether Michigan football coach 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 forty-three 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 it 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.
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.
Ben Mathis-Lilley’s thrilling account of one very magical college football season puts you on the sidelines, in the trenches, and inside the coaches’ heads to tell a bigger story about what it really takes to win—in sport and in life, too.—Jonathan Cohn, senior correspondent at HuffPost and author of The Ten Year War
College football is for rabidly delusional true believers, mass hallucinators, duped marks, and complete lunatics. Which is to say, it’s the truest American sport there is. The Hot Seat
is funny, passionate, wry, and observant, and it has more empathy than any college football fan I’ve ever met—and I say that as a dedicated member of that tribe myself. If you want to make sense of this ridiculous, thrilling sport and the country that can’t stop watching it—this is where you should start. But make sure to paint your face first.—Will Leitch, author of How Lucky and God Save The Fan
Mathis-Lilley has written a rip-roaringly funny book about the absurdity that is college football, making the whole enterprise accessible and wildly interesting even to people who couldn’t possibly care about whether Jim Harbaugh stays in Ann Arbor for another couple of years. These are stories ostensibly about the game and the people who keep it going, but they’re also about how an academic extracurricular activity became a national obsession and why. Anyone who cares deeply about anything that seems inconsequential can see themselves in this book.—Joel Anderson, Slate
“Surprisingly funny and filled with heart, this isn’t just a play-by-play recap of a college-football season; rather, it’s an insightful exploration of fandom and why 'there is no fully explainable reason to care what happens in a game. . . but there is nothing more important.' While a basic knowledge of football will help, this book will appeal to devoted fans of just about anything.”—Booklist