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Skin in the Game

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Football on the lawn Football on the lawn (ElvertBarnes/flickr)

Writer Eric Simons gets the ball rolling this episode with an embarrassing admission about a beautiful night, a hockey game, and an overwhelming, outsized feeling of rage that overtook his senses. 

What is it about being a fan that causes such intense reactions? How can the outcome of a game played by a bunch of strangers matter enough to make your day or destroy your week? Stephen Dubner, the host of Freakonomics Radio, makes a case for how sports can be deeply meaningful, and deeply personal. Stephen tells us how a childhood fascination with Steelers running back Franco Harris turned into an obsession after one seemingly miraculous play (now known as the Immaculate Reception) in 1972. And he explains how this obsession fed a recurring dream that haunted him for years, and eventually led to a grown-up realization about his life.

Read more:

Eric Simons, The Secret Lives of Sports Fans


Stephen J. Dubner

Comments [11]

awildroyappeared from Oklahoma

I misquoted. The artist is Jef Gilson, not Jef Gibson

Aug. 13 2016 02:29 PM
awildroyappeared from Oklahoma

That song is Accueil by Jef Gibson

Aug. 13 2016 02:25 PM
hugh lygon from nyc



hiter was right.

Aug. 12 2016 11:53 PM
sessie from NJ

I spent my formative years in Canada, where hockey is religion. I was a rink rat being dragged from tournament to tournament even in the summer as my brother played through university. I was working for the NJ Devils when they imploded against Carolina with 90 seconds left in Game 7. Listening to Eric's description I could totally identify with Eric's emotions/reaction. This past Tuesday my latest 'darkness' actually came at the hands of those same NJ Devils as the eliminated Danny Briere the Flyers. In fact I am still in a foul mood.

May. 12 2012 09:08 PM
manny howard from Brooklyn

wait? i love you Dubner, but you told this story in the stall in the bathroom? Aw hell, I still love you and you're right CAN put your emotional life in the hands of inappropriate folk... even in the war where everybody dies.

May. 11 2012 08:21 PM
Charlotte from Brooklyn (via Nashville)

BURN!!!!! Finished watching the Predators vs. Red Wings an hour ago. Needed to revisit this episode to feel connected, even if through my own "darkness." Thanks.

Feb. 17 2012 11:26 PM

nice.. i don't know this game. after reading your site I've the interest for playing that game.. thanks.


Oct. 14 2011 12:35 AM
Gabriel from Puerto Rico

One of the most deep and inspiring stories I have ever listned... Insightful... Our future, my future is in might hands... My heros can inspire me but I have to run with my ball. Thank you!

Sep. 18 2011 08:29 PM
michael202 from Brooklyn, NY

I too must know that organ music that starts at 19:57. Shazaam and SoundHound failed to id it.

Sep. 07 2011 09:35 AM

Most boring Radiolab segment ever? So boring Robert had to keep reminding throughout it was about to get more interesting. Thankfully the next segment on chess was more interesting.

Aug. 30 2011 07:21 AM
Tony Brower from Meridale

What is that music that starts at 19:57?

(I heard the podcast while I was driving today and to find that spot I had to remember where I was on the road when I heard it!)

Aug. 25 2011 11:53 PM

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