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Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifestoby Steve Almond
Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1970s, it was impossible not to be a football fan. But like Steve Almond, I've struggled with its morality. The case he makes against the game is rational, compelling, and impossible to ignore. He won't win any popularity contests by addressing this difficult subject, but my hope is that it will spur a debate that is long overdue.
Synopses & Reviews
In a searing manifesto sure to enrage at least half the nation, New York Times bestselling author Steve Almond takes on America’s biggest sacred cow: football.
On any given Sunday, football functions more like a national religion than a sport.
But simply put: the game isn’t good for us. Medical research confirms what the grim headlines keep reporting: football causes brain damage. Beloved Hall of Famers are now suffering from dementia, and taking their own lives. Children and teenagers are susceptible to the same sorts of injuries with the same long-term results.
But football’s psychological and economic hazards — though more subtle — are just as profound.
In Against Football, Steve Almond details why, after forty years as a fan, he can no longer watch the game he still loves. Using a synthesis of memoir, reportage, and cultural critique, Almond asks a series of provocative questions:
• What does it mean that our society has transmuted the intuitive physical joys of childhood — run, leap, throw, tackle — into a billion-dollar industry?
• How did a sport that causes brain damage become the leading signifier of our institutions of higher learning?
• Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia?
There has never been a book that exposes the dark underside of America’s favorite game with such searing candor.
"Early on in this powerful polemic, before expanding on the numerous reasons spectators should more seriously consider the ramifications of the football, Almond (Candyfreak) declares that he's been an avid, lifelong fan. Most of the arguments he espouses are familiar: football causes brain damage and lasting psychological conditions; football is largely unethical because it perpetuates a culture of bigotry and militant thought; and football perpetuates a manipulative system of crony capitalism that takes advantage of its players at the high-school, college, or professional levels. Further, Almond makes a convincing case for the theory that Americans have turned to football in order to meet spiritual needs that arose as a result of industrial and social progress. Perhaps the worst of it, Almond states bluntly, is that fans bear more responsible than they acknowledge, as they continue to watch greedily and passively despite being aware of these facts. Throughout, Almond anticipates his opponents' responses, pointing out that many will take issue with his diatribe. Fortunately, Almond is drawing on his own experiences as a fan to illustrate how difficult the problem, which provides the book with an engaging personal angle that will lure readers who are mature enough to hear him out whether they agree with his conclusions. An important read, even if as Almond concedes, it offers more questions than answers. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"It's an indictment, a self-excoriation, and a provocative analysis of why so many Americans are hooked on this organized violence." Tampa Bay Times
"Almond’s book is a tremendous read, as all of his work is, but more than that, it’s an important one, and one that leaves you slightly queasy the next time you set your fantasy football roster." Pop Culture Beast
“Many fans of football will react to this book with derision, and many non-fans will consider his points self-evident: both are wrong. These are arguments that deserve to be considered deeply and grappled with, and teens — who have not yet devoted their lives or opinions to or against the sport — are in a perfect position to take Almond’s manifesto seriously." School Library Journal
“Powerful...Almond is a sympathetic narrator, his evidence incontrovertible, the moral authority firmly on his side." Harper's Magazine
“A provocative, thoughtful examination of an ’astonishingly brutal’ sport….Comic, compassionate and thought-provoking.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
STEVE ALMOND was raised in Palo Alto, California, and was a newspaper reporter in Texas and Florida before writing his first book, the story collection My Life in Heavy Metal. His second book, Candy Freak, was a New York Times bestseller, was named the Booksense Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year, and won the American Library Association Alex Award. His short fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies, and he writes commentary and journalism regularly for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times. Almond lives outside Boston with his wife and three children.
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