In Against Football Steve Almond details why, after 40 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: Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia? 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 such an important emblem for our institutions of higher learning? There has never been a book that exposes the dark underside of America's favorite game with such searing candor.
©2014 Steve Almond (P)2015 Tantor
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
I watched football for years as a Chargers fan. Gradually I got turned off by the whole business--the endless hype, the inane commercials, the revolving door with players always coming and going, the rookies demanding more and more millions before they've even played a down, the obnoxious drunks, the fans who give sports a bad name, using football as one more excuse to be mean. (I wondered if Steve Almond would bring up the movie "Big Fan" starring Patton Oswalt, who asks, "Why does everybody have to be so mean?")
Admittedly, it also didn't help that I became a fan right when they drafted Ryan Leaf. :p
I cheered for the underdog Saints all through their Super Bowl season, was thrilled when they won...and then that whole bounty scandal broke. And the Patriots got away with cheating, how many times now? And then the concussion story came out. And Junior Seau shocked us all by shooting himself.
Like another reviewer, I stayed away from football this year to see if I'd miss it. And like that reviewer, I didn't.
I got this audiobook the week before Super Bowl. The game is the day after tomorrow. I was intrigued that Peyton Manning is in it again and thought I'd like to see how he'd do against the Carolina Panthers. If you're only watching one game all season, it should be the Big Game, right?
Well now I feel like, forget it. I want no part of it. After finishing Almond's book, it all reminds me of a first-century Roman Christian's remark, that men were being murdered in coliseums to please applauding crowds. Now it's men in billion-dollar state of the art stadiums, beating each other's brains out by the squadful, for the entertainment of cheering fans.
This book should be required reading in every school and college in America. We are killing and maiming so many young men for our own entertainment and for exorbitant financial profit by a few already wealthy people. In much the same way as our government and military-industrial complex send off our young men and women into far-off war zones... Except the sport of football seems even somehow even more reprehensible! We should all be ashamed of ourselves!
I grew up loving football. I played football in high school. I went nuts over fantasy football, joining multiple leagues and spending hours a week following the NFL. I was happy.
Then it began to feel weird. I saw these huge hits and felt shame rather than exhilaration. I watched owners get rich on the backs of countless players who wrecked their bodies - not the superstars, the third string linemen, the grunts. All of a sudden, the game I had loved for so long felt dirty and wrong.
I could never put all I was feeling into an argument as cogent and compelling as Against Football. Steve Almond, on the other hand, presents a provocative case against football - mainly the NFL, but touching on college and high school football as well.
You might get to the end of this book and think that Almond is full of shit, that he's whining about a game that bring joy to millions of people every fall. You might think that he blows a lot of stuff out of proportion. That's fantastic, and a totally valid opinion.
What's not valid is shutting your ears whenever someone speaks out against the game you love. This stuff is complicated. It's emotional. If you care about football enough to read this review, you owe it to yourself to be informed. Personally, I couldn't morally reconcile being an NFL fan any more. I've quit my fantasy football leagues. I don't watch games any more. I try not to patronize the major sponsors of the NFL.
I made my call. You should make yours.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.