Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game

Mark Edmundson. Penguin Press, $26.95 (230p) ISBN 978-1-59420-575-0
Edmundson’s memoir attempts to explain why football means so much to him, and why its influence on his life has been so lasting. In the course of all this, he argues unconvincingly that there are lessons that only football can teach—but this is a minor drawback in an otherwise intelligent and charming book. In each chapter, he focuses on a human trait, quality, or belief, and discusses how it relates to football: character, patriotism, and manliness are among those analyzed. An English professor at University or Virginia, Edmundson turns frequently to literature for his examples. The highlight of the book may well be his discussion of the ancient Greek heroes, Achilles and Hector, and their individual relationships with courage. Edmundson tentatively concludes that what we call courage or bravery may be little different from anger and the inability to repress it. Also enlightening, and moving, are the stories of Edmundson’s relationship with his father and his youngest son, and the importance of football in these relationships. Unafraid to challenge common assumptions about what football does and does not teach us, Edmundson’s book is uncommonly probing and insightful and should have wide-ranging appeal. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 09/04/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-312764-2
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