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Friday, September 26, 2014

Read This Book: Current Events Edition

This one might cause a bit of an uproar among the Twelfth Man. But it's a hot topic and given the controversies hounding the National Football League lately, many people have begun to rethink their support and interest. For those interested, Mark at the Ravenna store suggests Against Football by Steve Almond

Steve Almond covers all the reasons that fans should question their devotion to the game of football. First and foremost is the debilitating effects that the repeated crushing blows have on these athletes, especially head injuries. It's not just the frequent concussions that football players suffer, but the accumulated effects of hundreds of small hits every game and practice session. Fans are watching players seriously injure themselves for their entertainment. 

Almond wrote this book before the most recent football scandals, including the spousal abuse charge against Ray Rice. Football has a long history of sexism, and hyper-masculinity. Almond even covers the bullying scandal of a few years back (Miami Dolphins' Jonathan Martin,) and the expected media hoopla over the first openly gay NFL player (Michael Sam.) 

One of the issues covered that particularly interests me is the way public taxes are used to build these extravagant arenas, only to have the team owners benefit, often moving the team to another city when it suits their financial fancy. I guess they figure it works like the trickle down theory of economics. In other words, it's just another way for the rich to stay rich and get richer. 

This is a well-thought out diatribe, with humor, insight and empathy. I recommend this piece of social criticism for fans and non-fans alike.

Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto by Steve Almond

“Powerful...an important read." —Publishers Weekly

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:

     • 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.

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