|For immediate use||
Feb. 22, 2006 -- No. 92
Photo: To download a photo, see end of story
Hobson writes of Carolina basketball,
other religions, in memoir ‘Off The Rim’
CHAPEL HILL — Diehard Tar Heel fans know that when you use the term "Carolina fever," you’re talking about an obsession with Carolina hoops rather than an elevated body temperature due to physical illness.
Dr. Fred Hobson, Lineberger Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, understands Carolina fever all too well.
"Why should a particular game, played with a round ball by twenty-year-olds in short pants, often hundreds of miles away, mean so much to me, since I seem to have so little to gain or lose by its outcome?"
That’s how Hobson opens his memoir, "Off The Rim: Basketball and Other Religions in a Carolina Childhood" (University of Missouri Press, March 2006).
Hobson became a Tar Heel basketball fan at age 13 during the team’s 1956-57 "magical" 32-0 national championship season. He starred as a high school basketball player, then had his own chance to wear Carolina blue briefly by "walking on" the successful 1961-62 Carolina freshman team. It was the same year Dean Smith was elevated to head coach of the Tar Heels.
After not making the varsity team his sophomore year, Hobson turned to the romance of books – both reading them and writing about them, changing his major to English. He discovered the joys of William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O’Connor and H.L. Mencken. Hobson went on to receive bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Carolina and has been teaching English in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1989.
"Off the Rim" is a book about more than basketball – it’s a look into the culture, religion and politics of the Carolina hills and Hobson’s childhood in Yadkin County in the 1950s. It is a portrait of the people who made up the South, including the author’s parents, who both were – and were not – conventional Southerners.
It’s also about a boyhood fascination with basketball that never ends. "When I was a boy," Hobson writes, "my religion was basketball." He admits that today he is still confounded by the power the game holds over him.
"I have a chapter called ‘Second Childhood,’ which deals with the fact that somebody of this age shouldn’t be so interested in the outcome of a basketball game," Hobson said.
Hobson writes, "Can you imagine an average weeknight in February without college basketball on TV? It’s at that point in the year that the subconscious takes over: I begin to dream about basketball — once or twice a week — and in about half the dreams I still have a good knee (not to mention youth)."
An expert in Southern literature and intellectual history, autobiography and 20th-century American fiction, Hobson has written numerous books, including "The Silencing of Emily Mullen and Other Essays." He has edited dozens of others and co-edited The Southern Literary Journal, published at UNC, for 15 years.
UNC Southern studies expert Dr. John Shelton Reed writes of Hobson’s memoir: "Even if you don’t care who wins the Carolina-Duke game — is that possible? — you will enjoy this book."
Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Bradley adds: "Basketball and North Carolina go together like a horse and carriage. Fred Hobson knows because he lived it. If you love basketball, you will love this book."
- 30 -
Photo URL: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/faculty/hobson_fred.jpg
Note: Hobson can be reached at (919) 962-4005, email@example.com
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093, firstname.lastname@example.org
News Services contacts: Print, L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589; broadcast, Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595