Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto
by Steve Almond
Melville House, 2014. 177 pgs. Nonfiction
Probably this is not the best time of year to bring this book up, but here goes. Steve Almond is a remarkably loyal football fan, sticking with the hapless Oakland Raiders even now when their glory days are long gone and hard to find. And yet, in this slim volume, he reluctantly takes on the odds-on favorite, multi-billion-dollar industry of football. In a nutshell, here's what he has to say Against Football: It is a violent and dangerous sport, leaving many of its practitioners, especially the young ones, facing brain damage, early dementia, and any number of other neurological diseases and problems, not to mention the lifelong legacy of other crippling injuries. As evidenced wildly in recent events, some football players act as though they were above the law, and in fact, they often are, because a winning team is more important than justice in American life. When you say the names of such universities as Alabama, Michigan, USC, and many others, do their academics spring to mind? and is college football really that much more important than the educational institutions it is supposedly subordinate to? Besides, how does the NFL continue to enjoy the status of a non-profit (!?) institution, paying no taxes. Really? I doubt too many fans will stop watching the game because of Almond's book, but some may cut back on the habit, and feel a little guiltier or more sensitive about enjoying a hard hit.