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Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania

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What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills and Igloo coolers, these are hard-core football fans who arrive on Wednesday for Saturday’s game: The Reeses, who skipped their own daughter’s wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat, the Episcopal minister who watches the games on a television beside his altar while performing weddings; and John Ed, the wheeling and dealing ticket scalper whose access to good seats gives him power on par with the governor. In no time at all, St. John buys an RV (a $5,500 beater named The Hawg) and joins the caravan for a full football season, chronicling the world of the extreme fan and learning that in the shadow of the stadium, it can all begin to seem strangely normal. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.


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What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills What is it about sports that turns otherwise sane people into raving lunatics? Why does winning compel people to tear down goal posts, and losing, to drown themselves in bad keg beer? In short, why do fans care? In search of answers, Warren St. John seeks out the roving community of RVers who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide from game to game. A movable feast of Weber grills and Igloo coolers, these are hard-core football fans who arrive on Wednesday for Saturday’s game: The Reeses, who skipped their own daughter’s wedding because it coincided with a Bama game; Ray Pradat, the Episcopal minister who watches the games on a television beside his altar while performing weddings; and John Ed, the wheeling and dealing ticket scalper whose access to good seats gives him power on par with the governor. In no time at all, St. John buys an RV (a $5,500 beater named The Hawg) and joins the caravan for a full football season, chronicling the world of the extreme fan and learning that in the shadow of the stadium, it can all begin to seem strangely normal. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is not only a hilarious travel story, but a cultural anthropology of fans that goes a long way toward demystifying the universal urge to take sides and to win.

30 review for Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    It is the middle of baseball season. My team somehow finds itself in first place despite an up and down season. With three months left in the regular season I find myself craving football but the games that count do not start for another two months. I am relegated to videos of prior seasons and players’ social media accounts. On one of these forays I came across a book that is part football, part travelogue, which is the type of book I look forward to reading in the summer. In Rammer Jammer Yell It is the middle of baseball season. My team somehow finds itself in first place despite an up and down season. With three months left in the regular season I find myself craving football but the games that count do not start for another two months. I am relegated to videos of prior seasons and players’ social media accounts. On one of these forays I came across a book that is part football, part travelogue, which is the type of book I look forward to reading in the summer. In Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Alabama native son and New York Times columnist Warren St. John asks himself what it means to be a fan of a team as he journeys to the heart of college football country. Born in 1970 at the height of Bear Bryant’s coaching reign supreme over college football, Warren St John was indoctrinated into Alabama Crimson Tide football culture at a young age. His father and uncle took him to his first game when he was six years old, and he was hooked ever since. Using that game to mark time, St John has followed the Crimson Tide for better or worse for the rest of his life. It has gotten tricky at times as a student at Columbia in New York, being relegated to listening to a game against rival Auburn over the phone. Yet, somehow, St John living in New York for his entire adult life, has persevered with his team allegiance in tact. St John began to question what it meant to be a fan and what would constitute devotion to a team. For the 1996 season St John took leave of his job as a reporter for the New York Times and traveled to every game the Crimson Tide played as a member of the RV crowd. As a Midwesterner growing up in an urban area, tail gating was something that we did not do. Our teams’ stadiums are located in the heart of Chicago Making tail gating all but impossible. The Milwaukee fans tail gate and it looked crazy but fun when I noticed their fans grilling in the parking lot whenever our teams squared off. In Alabama in the heart of college football country tail gating is almost as important as the games themselves. With few professional teams in the region, fans profess an allegiance to their college team of choice. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Southeastern Conference, of which Alabama is a member. Fans from all over the south arrive on college campuses as early as Wednesday evening for a game taking place three days later. They stoke out prime spots in RV campers and barbecue and drink for a good three days, and then repeat this each week of the season. Along the way, friendships are made and broken, all in the name of allegiance to a football team. As crazy as this may sound to outsiders, to a football fan, or a fan of any sport, RV convoys to a game out of state are all part of the fan experience. St John traveled to Crimson Tide games first with Chris and Paula Bice and their dog Larry and struck up a friendship with them over Bama Bomb cocktails and breakfasts of tater tot casserole. Three games into the season had St John thinking that he should purchase his own RV, and so he did, albeit as inexpensive of a model as possible. Yet this $5500 camper got St John through an entire season and allowed him to travel to away games at Florida and Auburn without being a burden on his fellow fans. Striking up a friendship with Tuscaloosa ticket agent John Ed Belvin and following the career of a young Paul Finebaum, St John was along for the ride of the 1996 Crimson Tide that somehow won the SEC despite having less talent than in previous years. After experiencing the highs and lows of fandom, St John decided to do it all again the next year. After selling his RV and moving full time back to New York, St John has followed the Crimson Tide as best as he can living out of town. In his findings he has decided that he is not any less of a fan by not joining the RV crowd or was he any more of a fan by participating in full for an entire year. His findings include psychological studies on fandom, which as an ardent fan of multiple teams, I found as interesting as St John’s travels to the games themselves. With football season still a few months away, I was at least able to experience the fan experience for a few hours with Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. Let the countdown to kickoff begin. 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Edwards

    This book personifies the reason why is why I am in a book group. I would have NEVER (see how that's in all caps?) have picked up this book. I am not a sports player. I am not a sports fan. I couldn't care less about football. Especially college football. Unless it's my alma mater, the Maryland Terps, in which case I might say "go Terps" when I find out they've won something. Just not my thing. But this book? It digs deep, as it says in the subtitle, into the heart of Fan Mania. And Warren St. Jo This book personifies the reason why is why I am in a book group. I would have NEVER (see how that's in all caps?) have picked up this book. I am not a sports player. I am not a sports fan. I couldn't care less about football. Especially college football. Unless it's my alma mater, the Maryland Terps, in which case I might say "go Terps" when I find out they've won something. Just not my thing. But this book? It digs deep, as it says in the subtitle, into the heart of Fan Mania. And Warren St. John, our tour guide into this land of manic fans, is an Alabama boy. That's the University of Alabama, the Crimson Tide. And he uses his own experiences and his own absolute devotion to "his" team as a springboard for finding out what it is in humans that makes us pick a side and then pour our heart into being a follower. What is it about the contest itself? The chance of winning? What are the intricacies of fan interaction and that "crowd mentality" that makes you hug or cry with complete strangers? Truthfully, I was so worried about having to read this one and there is no doubt that some scenes of football action were skimmed, but overall, this was one entertaining and fascinating read. It reminded me a lot of the book Confederates in the Attic, which examines Civil War re-enactors. Rammer Jammer introduces us to some of the really interesting characters of Alabama fandom - his die-hard love of the Crimson Tide was his ticket to places and people that made this such an intriguing read. Especially all those RV fans, the ones that travel around to tailgate and watch - it's like it's own little culture. I think honestly what I liked best is that he (our author) DID have a team. Even while looking at all these fans, he was psychoanalyzing HIS OWN SELF. Trying to figure out where the rush of absolute joy or the cloud desolation that can come from the outcome of a GAME. There was a great mix of his own experiences, history and sociology. I feel like my mind has been opened up to an entire new world - and I'm a fan of that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    K

    Eh. I wanted to like this book more than I did. Recently my workplace decided to boost morale by having a kind of NFL day, where all of us had to wear a sports jersey celebrating our favorite team. I was one of two people (among a relatively large staff) who not only didn't own a jersey but didn't follow a team. The one other nerd in my position decided with me that we would be the 'Reading Team," and designed T-shirts for us to wear celebrating our love of reading. Fellow goodreaders, I know you Eh. I wanted to like this book more than I did. Recently my workplace decided to boost morale by having a kind of NFL day, where all of us had to wear a sports jersey celebrating our favorite team. I was one of two people (among a relatively large staff) who not only didn't own a jersey but didn't follow a team. The one other nerd in my position decided with me that we would be the 'Reading Team," and designed T-shirts for us to wear celebrating our love of reading. Fellow goodreaders, I know you were all with me on this one but I must say, it was hard to fight the feelings of loneliness in our little handmade T-shirts. So I picked up this book, hoping it would demystify for me, once and for all, why anyone would want to follow sports and why people seem to feel I'm practically unpatriotic for not having a favorite team. Did it? Well, not really. I mean, sure, there were some funny, over-the-top anecdotes about people who arrived late at their daughter's wedding because it conflicted with a game, a man awaiting a heart transplant who traveled outside of his required radius to attend games (because life ain't worth living if you can't go to the games), people (including the author) who invested in RVs so they could arrive several days early at Saturday games, park in the lot, and hang out with fellow sports-besotted fans, etc., etc. It was also kind of interesting to contemplate the parallels between the rituals associated with football fandom and organized religion. The attachment to time-honored traditions. The superstitions. The sacrifices. The sense of community, as well as the us-against-them. Otherwise, though, the book left me cold. I never felt I received the information (research-based or otherwise) that would help me comprehend this phenomenon. And as talented an author as Warren St. John was, his descriptions of the games he watched failed to captivate me. I'm giving it three stars because I did admire St. John's writing, because there were some pretty funny stories and characters, and because I'm pretty sure a sports fan would enjoy it a lot more than I did. I have to say, though, that I disagree with those who felt that you don't have to be a sports fan to appreciate this book. As a curious non-fan, the book wasn't what I hoped it would be.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Devin Bates

    An insightful, exceedingly well written deep dive into a subculture that I didn’t even know existed. I picked it up thinking it was a football book and I probably would get bored after a few chapters. However, it was more a piece about people, culture, and our obsession with sports. Overall entertaining and comedic. Glad to have read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I first bought this book as a gift for my friend Derrick, a University of Alabama alum. I was fascinated by it and I love college football, and I'm thinking he won't give it back, so I bought my own copy so that I can read it. *****When I was but a wee, small girl, and thanks to my father's obsession, many of my fall mornings were spent being woken up on Saturday mornings at 5:00 and being dragged, unwillingly from my home in Virginia to Morgantown, West Virginia, home of West Virginia University I first bought this book as a gift for my friend Derrick, a University of Alabama alum. I was fascinated by it and I love college football, and I'm thinking he won't give it back, so I bought my own copy so that I can read it. *****When I was but a wee, small girl, and thanks to my father's obsession, many of my fall mornings were spent being woken up on Saturday mornings at 5:00 and being dragged, unwillingly from my home in Virginia to Morgantown, West Virginia, home of West Virginia University and the WVU Mountaineers. As a result, I grudgingly, then wholeheartedly embraced college football. This book is for people like us, and anyone who wants to understand people like us. You don't have to be an Alabama fan to fall in love with the eccentric group of RV-ers that St. John joins. I loved this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    funny travel novel in a similar vein to bill bryson. totally not a college football fan, but this book caught me up in the spirit of the game and bama fandom. also: roll tide.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cullen Wilkes

    This book is horrendous. The sole reason I finished it was my firm refusal to leave a book unfinished, and also to make sure the entire thing was awful and not just the start of it. I am a student at the University of Alabama that hoped to learn a thing or two about the history of the football program. What I got instead was a memoir from a reporter that followed crazed, RV owning fans that follow the Crimson Tide for a season, tailgating about half the week for every game. The book had relativel This book is horrendous. The sole reason I finished it was my firm refusal to leave a book unfinished, and also to make sure the entire thing was awful and not just the start of it. I am a student at the University of Alabama that hoped to learn a thing or two about the history of the football program. What I got instead was a memoir from a reporter that followed crazed, RV owning fans that follow the Crimson Tide for a season, tailgating about half the week for every game. The book had relatively little to do with the Alabama football team at all. Maybe 50% is actually about football. The next worst part about this book is the absolutely poor style. This guy pretends to be reporting on Watergate among a group of freaking RV owners. He acts as though he is undercover among a group that could turn on him at any moment. In actuality they are RV owners literally dedicating their lives to watching football, minding their own business, who likely couldn’t give a damn about his very existence. On top of his self portrayed James Bond spying among tailgaters, he has to pretend as though he is barely in control of his emotions. When Alabama wins he acts as though he could jump up and click his heels like Dorothy. When they lose he might as well put a bullet through his brain. And according to him these are 100% his real emotions, and not just written out for the book. He is like a friend at a party that is a good guy but clearly does not belong. His acting is very see through and it is terrible. He should stick up to New York where he belongs and leave the Crimson Tide alone, no matter how much he pretends to ride an emotional roller coaster with them. This book gets 1 star. The topic, writing, reporting, and story are all horribly lousy. This is the first book I’ve ever even given one star. Roll Tide from a student who didn’t betray his roots to the South to turn into a yankee reporter.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Mayer

    My absolute favorite sports book, and the most comprehensive look into what it means to be a "fan" out there. I've read it a few times now and it always helps hammer home my own fandom (to the Cubs) in that I am perfectly alright to be the way I am because so many others out there - in every sport - are not only like me but sometimes even more extreme. I will admit that, in 2019, some of it is dated - I believe the book chronicles the 1999 season, although it is never explicitly mentioned. Just t My absolute favorite sports book, and the most comprehensive look into what it means to be a "fan" out there. I've read it a few times now and it always helps hammer home my own fandom (to the Cubs) in that I am perfectly alright to be the way I am because so many others out there - in every sport - are not only like me but sometimes even more extreme. I will admit that, in 2019, some of it is dated - I believe the book chronicles the 1999 season, although it is never explicitly mentioned. Just that "Tennessee won the national championship the year before" which means that happened in 1998, as that was their last title. But, for a book that is now 20 years old...it's still relative as ever. Fandom doesn't really change, and it certainly doesn't stop, so 20 years ago or right now...fans are fans. Lastly, I will admit that I wish someone would write a book similar to this about a football conference I actually care about - the Big Ten. This book, and the similar "Dixieland Delight" (which I read immediately before re-reading this) are both about my (and America's) most despised football conference: the SEC. Why are they despised? Because of their success, a lot of which is addressed in this book. But still, I do wish something with a bit more familiarity to me existed. I get it, I still really enjoy this book...but I still don't like the SEC or any of the teams in it. Except for when they play, and destroy, Notre Dame. Because that just never gets old.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mom

    This is not a book for someone who isn’t a college football fan of some sort or a student of crowd behavior. And if the phrase “Roll Tide” is like nails on a chalkboard to you, this book is not for you either. But if you have ever enjoyed going to a college game you will enjoy it and laugh a lot. St. John, who grew up as a fan of the University of Alabama in the era of Bear Bryant (if you don’t know who he is, don’t read this book), buys a barely mobile RV and joins the troop of fans who drive t This is not a book for someone who isn’t a college football fan of some sort or a student of crowd behavior. And if the phrase “Roll Tide” is like nails on a chalkboard to you, this book is not for you either. But if you have ever enjoyed going to a college game you will enjoy it and laugh a lot. St. John, who grew up as a fan of the University of Alabama in the era of Bear Bryant (if you don’t know who he is, don’t read this book), buys a barely mobile RV and joins the troop of fans who drive their vans, campers and moving motels to Alabama football games. His aim is to see what motivates such ardent fans and basically to just join in their fun. Full of quirky characters like a man who raises “Show” chickens or even another who is awaiting a heart transplant but leaves the geographic radius he is supposed to remain in to remain eligible for a new heart because life isn’t worth living without being able to go to Alabama football games. Written in the late 90s when DuBose was the coach of Alabama.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Warren St. John had me at, "A recent poll by the Mobile Register found 90% of the state's citizen's described themselves as college football fans. 86% of them pull for one of the major football powers there, Alabama or Auburn, and 4% pull for other teams-Florida, Notre Dame, Georgia, Tennessee, and Michigan, or smaller schools like Alabama A&M or Alabama State. To understand what an absolute minority nonfans are in Alabama, consider this: they are outnumbered there by atheists." ...Don’t dismiss Warren St. John had me at, "A recent poll by the Mobile Register found 90% of the state's citizen's described themselves as college football fans. 86% of them pull for one of the major football powers there, Alabama or Auburn, and 4% pull for other teams-Florida, Notre Dame, Georgia, Tennessee, and Michigan, or smaller schools like Alabama A&M or Alabama State. To understand what an absolute minority nonfans are in Alabama, consider this: they are outnumbered there by atheists." ...Don’t dismiss this book as a just another ode to BAMA & its history. It explores the devotion of sports fans all over...what makes them crazed about the teams...why the emotional highs & lows revolve around wins & losses...what drives fans to follow sports with such devotion...St. John uses the anecdotal stories of the famed BAMA "RV tailgate caravan culture" that loyal follows Tide Football, along with current physiological, sociological & psychological in an attempt to explain this very human sports phenomenon...this ranks right with Roger Kahn & David Halberstam, but a whole lot funnier!!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Book Challenge Category: Book with your Favorite Color in Title THis book is a very fun read-- delving into the world of RV tailgating in college football-- specifically at the University of Alabama, Roll Tide. I wish issues of race and class were a bit more examined in the text. But overall, an interesting read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I absolutely loved this book. As a late in life Mississippi State fan I loved all the history and tales about the SEC and our devotion to football. The author never looks down on anyone or ridicules anyone in a mean way. He’s a fabulous writer and I enjoyed every page. I see now why this book is a classic if you want to understand or celebrate college football in the south.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Hickman

    I am an avid sports fan and I was really looking forward to reading this book. I was pretty disappointed. I think I would’ve liked the book had there been more character development, more dialogue and interaction with some of the weekly RVer’s. Overall it is an interesting take on a subculture within college sports.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    It just means more The popular mantra of the greatest college football conference in the land comes through in this book. At the heart of the SEC is more than just the teams and players on the field, but the fans in the stand,. This book will make you reassure to go and rent your own RV and head down to tailgate this fall.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Steven Seals

    An interesting take on how human beings have a natural tendency to pick a team and lose all semblance of reason as a fan. Warren does a good job of both valuing and relating to fans while pointing out the strangeness of it all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth Knott

    Loved this book. I love that this book about how die-hard Alabama fans can be was written during the "dark ages" between Gene Stallings and Nick Saban. I would absolutely LOVE a follow-up written during the Saban era! Loved this book. I love that this book about how die-hard Alabama fans can be was written during the "dark ages" between Gene Stallings and Nick Saban. I would absolutely LOVE a follow-up written during the Saban era!

  17. 5 out of 5

    William Crosswell

    Regardless of where your fandom lies, you’ll love following Warren in his journey through an Alabama season with its ups and downs, but more so of how each fan exudes their passion and pride for the Tide. It’s one I’d read again and again. It’s that good.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ann (thebookisbetterann)

    Interesting concept, but I just couldn't get into it. DNF Interesting concept, but I just couldn't get into it. DNF

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Love it but I am also an Alabama fan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Foreman

    This was a very interesting look at Alabama football history. Being a transplant from Michigan this is an awesome read. I highly recommend it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

    Delightful audiobook following Alabama football fans/RV enthusiasts through a tumultuous season for the Crimson Tide. Wonderful read for a road trip to Alabama - State 48!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jen Hite Miller

    I struggling getting into this book and never finished it

  23. 4 out of 5

    Missy M

    Enjoyed 3.8

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    I should preface this review by saying that I am not a sports fan and not a football fan, and I was not looking forward to reading this book, which was recommended to me. So with all that in mind, no one is more shocked than I am by how much I loved this book. The book is essentially an Alabamian-turned-New Yorker's experience taking a leave of absence from his job to follow the Alabama Crimson Tide football team in an RV. It is a funny and sometimes surprisingly poignant account of his time at I should preface this review by saying that I am not a sports fan and not a football fan, and I was not looking forward to reading this book, which was recommended to me. So with all that in mind, no one is more shocked than I am by how much I loved this book. The book is essentially an Alabamian-turned-New Yorker's experience taking a leave of absence from his job to follow the Alabama Crimson Tide football team in an RV. It is a funny and sometimes surprisingly poignant account of his time at home and away games. He introduces us to the people he met along the way, many of whom start out as comical caricatures and then surprise us with their complexity. Somewhat critical to the story is the fact that, even though the author is from Alabama and grew up following the Tide, he is almost universally viewed as an outsider because he lives in New York and introduces himself as a reporter, which affects many of his interactions. If you do not like reading accounts of sporting events with mind-numbing detail about fumbles and touchdowns and interceptions (I do not), you will actually be OK with this book. The discussion of what actually happened in the games was limited to a few pages at most per game, and for the most part, you can skip ahead to find out whether the team won or lost without missing anything. The book is about southern football culture (which is basically a religion), and the games themselves are not actually all that relevant to the broader story. A couple of things I do feel inclined to mention. First, the author can be a little bit sexist, occasionally expressing shock when good-looking college women are drunk or screaming profanities at the games. He is young enough to know that being obnoxious is not the exclusive provenance of 20-something frat boys, and I found these passages annoying. Also, the author does occasionally touch on issues of racism among the fans, and while the book is obviously meant to be a mostly lighthearted account of his experience, he could've broached this subject with a little more introspection. He does talk about the incongruous logic of the racist fan, but he doesn't ever really touch on the exploitative nature of college sports or the deeply entrenched racism at some of the institutions featured in this book. I don't think this type of book demands an in-depth study of the issue, but I felt distinctly as though he was intentionally giving a very big issue only the most perfunctory mention.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Arnold

    Anyone who enjoys college football should consider giving this in-depth case study in fandom a look, even though it's written by and focuses on fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide, a team that I, like so many others, am unable to contemplate without feeling a mixture of disgust and hatred. As a Texas Longhorns fan, I'll never forget the cosmic cruelties of the 2009 BCS Championship Game, and I'll always remember the peculiar sense I felt when the Tide played Big 12 turncoats/SEC newcomers Texas A&M Anyone who enjoys college football should consider giving this in-depth case study in fandom a look, even though it's written by and focuses on fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide, a team that I, like so many others, am unable to contemplate without feeling a mixture of disgust and hatred. As a Texas Longhorns fan, I'll never forget the cosmic cruelties of the 2009 BCS Championship Game, and I'll always remember the peculiar sense I felt when the Tide played Big 12 turncoats/SEC newcomers Texas A&M in 2012, nearly unable to decide who to pull for in a can't-they-both-lose spectacle of competing acrimonies. The author, a journalist for the New York Times, is a lifelong Tide fan who decided to do some research into the nature of fandom, hoping to shed a little light on why millions of otherwise psychologically healthy people devote time, energy, and money to sports. Though the urge to root for sports teams is nearly universal, people have been fascinated with its seeming irrationality for millennia. St. John has a good quote from the ancient Roman author Pliny the Younger about our propensity to cheer for laundry: "It surprises me all the more that so many thousands of adult men should have such a childish passion for watching galloping horses and drivers standing in chariots, over and over again. If they were attracted by the speed of the horses or the driver's skill one could account for it, but in fact it is the racing-colours they really support and care about, and if the colours were to be exchanged in mid-course during a race, they would transfer their favor and enthusiasm and rapidly desert the famous drivers and horses whose names they shout as they recognize them from afar. Such is the popularity and importance of a worthless shirt." He conducted field research in the form of following the Tide, in an RV if possible, for the entire 1999 season from the opener against Vanderbilt right up until the SEC championship game against Florida (oddly, he devotes only a single oblique paragraph in the epilogue to the Orange Bowl against Michigan, a heartbreaking loss also notable for being Tom Brady's final college game). The real draw are the characters he encounters along the way, such as: - a couple who missed their daughter's wedding so they could attend the rivalry game against Tennessee (don't worry, they made the reception afterwards) - a couple where the wife was having a gall bladder attack, and she desperately got hopped up on Demerol for a bowl game against Ohio State before dealing with her medical issue - a man who crashed his plane into a tree before the Mississippi State game, yet still made it These people are really funny to read about, and though as an outsider I read their stories in much the same check-out-this-trainwreck spirit that drives people to watch horrible reality TV shows, by the end I admired the author for doing what I thought impossible - humanizing Bama fans. I freely acknowledge the arbitrariness of sports fandom, yet I still can't resist compulsively refreshing ESPN to get my fix of modern tribalism during football season. If you've ever chuckled knowingly at those Bud Light "it's only weird if it doesn't work" commercials, you should check this out as soon as you've fortified your stomach against the prospect of nearly 300 pages about crimson and white. It's broader than that, and you may find yourself with a deeper appreciation for your (our) shared obsession.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nic

    Warren St. John has written one of the funniest sports books I have ever held in my hands. As I myself am a dedicated Crimson Tide fan, he could not have chosen a better team to follow nor a better group of fans: the RVers who follow the Tide to every game and create RV cities in the parking lots of opposing teams’ stadiums. But don’t dismiss this book as a just another title praising the Tide and their legacy. St. John explores the fevered devotion of sports fans: what makes us so crazed about t Warren St. John has written one of the funniest sports books I have ever held in my hands. As I myself am a dedicated Crimson Tide fan, he could not have chosen a better team to follow nor a better group of fans: the RVers who follow the Tide to every game and create RV cities in the parking lots of opposing teams’ stadiums. But don’t dismiss this book as a just another title praising the Tide and their legacy. St. John explores the fevered devotion of sports fans: what makes us so crazed about the teams we dedicate ourselves to? Why do our emotional highs and lows revolve around wins and losses? Why do we hug a complete stranger after a win just because he’s wearing the same team shirt as we are? What drives us to follow sports with such devotion that we plan our lives around game schedules? St. John meets a hilarious and unique group of fans who try to help him answer and understand those questions. There’s the Bices who live in North Carolina but motorhome their way to every game and fortify themselves with Bama Bombs – Maraschino Cherries marinated in pure grain alcohol. There’s the Show Chicken Man, who has to decide between RVing to a game or RVing to a championship chicken show. One might question his loyalty until they find out the headboard of his bed has Bear Bryant painted on it. Then there’s Paul Finebaum, the anti-fan who spends his four-hour radio broadcast crucifying the Crimson Tide and guaranteeing an endless parade of vitriol, hatred and death threats from Alabama’s most devoted fans. St. John’s descriptions of the games are so well done that I felt as if I was sitting right there with him watching my beloved Tide gut the Gators in a shocking victory in the Swamp at Florida. I felt the ups and downs that he did and realized this author and I are kindred spirits. When I got done, I actually regretted being employed and, therefore, unable to ditch my job, buy a secondhand RV, and motor all over the south to Alabama games. Having traveled in a motorhome, I laughed out loud at St. John’s first experience with washing in one: “I have my first RV shower – picture bathing with a squirt gun.” In case you are wondering about the title, Rammer Jammer is a long-defunct campus magazine at the University of Alabama. Yellow hammer is the state bird of Alabama. Both are part of our victory cry (for which I will substitute a losing team’s name): Hey A & M! Hey A & M! We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer! Give ‘em hell, Alabama! To be screamed loudly and vehemently during and after games! If you’re not an Alabama fan (what is wrong with you?), you will still enjoy this book, still relate to that worldwide unity of being a sports fan, and still find plenty to laugh about as you read. So Roll Tide and read on! Check out this review and more on my blog at http://ggddizzy07.wordpress.com

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I would like to start off by telling you what this book is NOT. While an appreciation for University of Alabama football would enhance enjoyment of this book, this is not simply Alabama fan reading material. "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" (RJYH) is a very interesting study of the football fan RV subculture. These are the folks that buy motorhomes and travel from game to game, setting up little "villages" on school campuses across the south. When I got the book, I was afraid that St. John's missio I would like to start off by telling you what this book is NOT. While an appreciation for University of Alabama football would enhance enjoyment of this book, this is not simply Alabama fan reading material. "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" (RJYH) is a very interesting study of the football fan RV subculture. These are the folks that buy motorhomes and travel from game to game, setting up little "villages" on school campuses across the south. When I got the book, I was afraid that St. John's mission was to make fun of this subculture as well as the fanaticism of the ALabama faithful. As an Alabama fan, I wouldnt enjoy the ridicule, but as a fan of any other team, I would resent the ridicule. BUT hat is another thing that this book is NOT! While you can find a better synopsis of the book, I am sure, here are the basics: Warren St. John, an Alabama fan from childhood, goes away to Columbia University to study and goes to great lengths to keep informed of how his favorite team is performing in Alabama. He begins to wonder why fans get to be so, well, fanatical. St. John has a fascination with these RV villages that spring up overnight-sometimes a whole week before a game. He contends that these guys must be the "uberfans" of Alabama football and would, therefore, be good subjects to study in his search for answers about fandom. He decides to immerse himself in this culture for an entire season. This book records his experiences along the way. If it stopped there, it would probably be an interesting read only for diehard ALabama fans. However, St. John delves into the whole idea of what makes people fans of certain sports and certain teams. What would compel a person to buy a $600,000 motor home and risk life and limb to get to 12 football games a year? Why do we choose the teams that we choose? How does such extreme team loyalty develop and how can it be affected by wins, losses, coaching decisions and university administrations. His descriptions of the quirky people along the way are entertaining without being demeaning. He is incredibly gifted in the ways that he describes the people and events that occur. I found myself laughing out loud in some spots, dog-earing pages to read to my husband, and leaving with a better sense of myself as a football fan. Be warned, this is a book about football. As he travels from game to game, the information about what happens in each game is discussed in order to explain the "fandom's" actions and reactions. You should be a football fan to read this book, just not necessarily an Alabama fan.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anna Lembke

    I have flipped through parts of this book and read selections, and the reason every single Alabama football supporter had this book next to their commemorative national championship footballs is because it captures the essence of being a crazy bama fan. At the age of four, the brainwashing had already started. I had been attending football games at Bryant-Denny for a solid two years and on select Saturdays was carted off to Tuscaloosa in a mini cheerleader costume with pom poms (not that I new wh I have flipped through parts of this book and read selections, and the reason every single Alabama football supporter had this book next to their commemorative national championship footballs is because it captures the essence of being a crazy bama fan. At the age of four, the brainwashing had already started. I had been attending football games at Bryant-Denny for a solid two years and on select Saturdays was carted off to Tuscaloosa in a mini cheerleader costume with pom poms (not that I new what was happening but when the stadium would erupt I would give them a shake). Those were the bliss filled days of a young Alabama fan. As I got older, I started to realize my team wasn't actually that good...but whatever, it was still what every Saturday was filled with. Then the crazy happened. Nick Saban arrived at Alabama and all hell (and heaven) broke loose. This book was honestly written about seven years too soon because lemme tell you, if it had been written during the golden days (which are still going on) you might have found an unprecedented level of enthusiasm. My dad was ecstatic that his team was back in business, those season tickets had never been a better investment, and we were and still are one of the best teams in the country. My father is honestly the most enthusiastic person ever. He is the picture of a dedicated Alabama fan: at least thirty Alabama baseball caps, special game day clothes, a firm believer of luck and our team. Every game day you can be sure to see him at his seat in the stadium with an ear radio broadcasting the game as he watches it play out before his eyes, never smiling until we win, and rewatching victories and losses all year round. For Alabama football, I have suffered sitting One hundred degree heat for hours on end, Saturdays being basically dedicated to the game (and if we arent there we are at my house watching every other game on tv), freezing temperatures, trips to *cringes* Tennessee, agonizing victories, and god awful losses (don't ask about 0.01). But that is fine. Football is a real part of life in my home and in Alabama. I have been squeezed into crappy stadiums and basically live in crimson, but in the end all I have to say is: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer Give Em Hell Alabama.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    If you like 'Bama football and RVs, this will be the perfect book for you. If you live in the northeast and don't understand the rest of the country's obsession with college football, this could also be a great book for you. Otherwise, there are better sports books on the market, like anything by David Halberstam or Roger Kahn to name a couple. The framing device for this book is fairly standard, Warren St. John follows the Alabama football team through a season of ups and downs, hanging out wit If you like 'Bama football and RVs, this will be the perfect book for you. If you live in the northeast and don't understand the rest of the country's obsession with college football, this could also be a great book for you. Otherwise, there are better sports books on the market, like anything by David Halberstam or Roger Kahn to name a couple. The framing device for this book is fairly standard, Warren St. John follows the Alabama football team through a season of ups and downs, hanging out with some of the team's most obsessive fans, the RV convoyers who arrive at the stadium days before kickoff. At first, he bums rides to the games, but midway through the book, he catches the fever, buys a "cheap" RV and parties like a man on a mission. The frame up was enough to get him on NPR but not enough to keep my interest. My unhappiness with this book can be summed up in three simples bullets: 1) I wish that he had chosen more interesting people. After hearing about the tenth person who gave up some significant portion of their life to get to the 'Bama game to party by Wednesday, well enough. More people doesn't make the party more interesting, just filled with more obsessive types. 2) He's not that good of a writer. Pearls of wisdom don't drop off the page. To carry off this kind of a book, you have to transport the reader to another life. St. John didn't do that. Perhaps because he started off the book as an outsider, I too am kept at arm's length. Maybe his fandom isn't as infectious as all that. 3) I'll also go on record saying the obvious racism bothers me. In this exclusive group, the color of your skin matters. Being from the northeast, that seems so last century. Somewhere in the book, even St. John admits that there is no rational reason to root for on team over another. Our choices are largely determined by geography or genes. We want to belong, to be a part of larger community, a member of the team. I wanted to love this book, but hey I can't recommend it to others. Punt.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    http://www.gerberadaisydiaries.com/20... Oklahoma was ranked #1 in the preseason USA Today/Coaches Poll, today. Why does that matter? Well, when you are a football fanatic, you wait 9 months for this date, and anticipate the 12 autumn weekends that comprise the college football season – and with some luck – week nights in January to watch them in BCS bowls. I, like Warren St. John, the author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, spend too many countless hours watching football on any given Saturday from http://www.gerberadaisydiaries.com/20... Oklahoma was ranked #1 in the preseason USA Today/Coaches Poll, today. Why does that matter? Well, when you are a football fanatic, you wait 9 months for this date, and anticipate the 12 autumn weekends that comprise the college football season – and with some luck – week nights in January to watch them in BCS bowls. I, like Warren St. John, the author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, spend too many countless hours watching football on any given Saturday from September thru December. He for his beloved Crimson Tide of Alabama, I for my alma mater, The Oklahoma Sooners. We weep tears of joy and pain over wins and losses. We both, surprisingly, bleed Crimson. His famed coach wore a hounds tooth patterned fedora, my famed coach (Barry Switzer) was ousted in ’88 when three team members were arrested on weapons charges and rape. Fortunately, I was able to prepare myself for the impending magic of football season by reading his chronicle of following the Tide in his RV “The Hawg” during the 1999 SEC Championship football season: he meets fans, interviews radio announcers, lunches with boosters, visits the famed Bear Bryant Museum – all in his quest to understand our collective rolls as FANS. His narrative is electrifying when describing the utter ecstasy one feels with a win and the despondency one feels with a loss. You can smell the stale beer in the stands, and feel the heat from the late afternoon stadium sun. You can even hear the band playing the fight song. The only detraction was that it was dated. Alabama has ridden the roller coaster of football success in recent years, but with the crowning (because in football, that’s what it amounts too) of Nick Saban, they won the BCS National Championship a year ago – it would have been a much more exhilarating to read about that season, than long forgotten Mike Dubose’s season (who?) of 12 years ago. Regardless, it was a great read in anticipation of kickoff in 4 weeks! Boomer Sooners!

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