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Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto

by

Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto Cover

ISBN13: 9781612194158
ISBN10: 161219415x
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

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.
Recommended by Shawn D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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.

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

“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

Review:

“Powerful...Almond is a sympathetic narrator, his evidence incontrovertible, the moral authority firmly on his side." Harper's Magazine

Review:

“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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

73A10D, September 17, 2014 (view all comments by 73A10D)
More of a testimonial than a manifesto, the book should put people who have somewhat escaped the social politics of the spectacle in touch with the better angels of their nature. As I've loaned the book out I shall have to read it again. I am admittedly partial, and not at all reluctant, in approving of any book that depicts the marriage of corporate business and violence in the starkest light possible. "It's just fun" should never get an automatic pass, and Almond touches on most of the reasons why this is good thinking. Let me include a spoiler here: the author's two parents are psychologists and he was an avid Oakland Raiders fan.

Read the book, people. Recommend it and pass it on to people you would like to have a glance at salvation.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
anniegarrison, September 8, 2014 (view all comments by anniegarrison)
I haven't actually read the book yet, so I didn't rate it yet, but yesterday I heard a fascinating interview with Steve Almond on WNUR 89.3fm-Chicago's This Is Hell!, which I already shared with the commentary below on my Facebook page. I'd like to get a copy and review it. and have Steve Almond on one of the radio shows I sometimes host on WBAI-NYC. I don't see a Kindle or E-Pub copy available, but that's what I'd most like to have if someone is willing to send me a review copy. If that's not possible, paper will do.

Here's what I wrote yesterday on my Facebook page:

Ann Garrison
18 hrs · ·
Just listened to this guy, Steve Almond, on WUNR-Chicago's This Is Hell! archive. He makes a good case that football is a racist, sexist, gladiator spectacle of American social failure. That adult American males organize their weekends around this voyeuristic violence, that the billionaire white corporate team (plantation) owners hire a bunch of mostly Black players to permanently damage their bodies and brains, and a bunch of girls to dance around, showing off their panties'n body parts for slave wages, even jumping up and down cheering when they, the owners, appear on the field. That the brain and body damage can't be stopped without taking the violence out of the game, making it touch football, instead of a ritual of unsustainable, violent sacrifice like that the empire acts out all over the world every day. That American males, and some females, who sit on the couch all weekend playing their role in this immoral football industrial complex are escaping adult moral responsibility in the most violent empire in the history of the world. I'll post the discreet archive when This is Hell! makes it available. It's the last hour of a four hour show.
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(1 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781612194158
Subtitle:
One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto
Author:
Almond, Steve
Publisher:
Melville House
Subject:
Football
Subject:
Sports and Fitness-Football General
Publication Date:
20140826
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
7.7 x 5.4 x 0.76 in 0.6 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Sports
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Brain
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Illnesses
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Football » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sociology of Sports
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports Writing

Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto New Hardcover
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Product details 192 pages Melville House - English 9781612194158 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.
"Review" by , "It's an indictment, a self-excoriation, and a provocative analysis of why so many Americans are hooked on this organized violence."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , “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."
"Review" by , “Powerful...Almond is a sympathetic narrator, his evidence incontrovertible, the moral authority firmly on his side."
"Review" by , “A provocative, thoughtful examination of an ’astonishingly brutal’ sport….Comic, compassionate and thought-provoking.”
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