Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto
by Steve Almond, 2014
I won’t be letting any kids of mine play football. They’ll probably be skinny like me and won’t want to anyway, but still.
Football is an overly violent form of pseudo-battle that causes permanent brain damage to its players. Players are expected to act tough, take another hit, and fight back, no matter the circumstance. It has a culture of fans willing to sweep aside the faults (sexual assaults, drug use, cheating in school) of their team’s players in order to keep them active for the weekend’s game. And it has a corrupt business model in which the NFL is somehow a non-profit and teams blackmail their cities into funding ridiculously expensive stadiums for billionaire owners.
Those are the arguments. Most of them ring true. Unfortunately, the sport is a lot of fun to watch as a strategist, analyst, and fantasy owner. So what’s a fan to do? I like the suggestions for change at the back of the book. They would improve many situations without ruining the fun of watching football. I don’t think the situation is equivalent to a modern-version of gladiator sports or sacrificial offerings, so some of the book was a bit over the top. Interesting read though.