cover image Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

Steve Almond. Melville House (Random, dist.), $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-61219-415-8

Early on in this powerful polemic, before expanding on the numerous reasons spectators should more seriously consider the ramifications of the football, Almond (Candyfreak) declares that he’s been an avid, lifelong fan. Most of the arguments he espouses are familiar: football causes brain damage and lasting psychological conditions; football is largely unethical because it perpetuates a culture of bigotry and militant thought; and football perpetuates a manipulative system of crony capitalism that takes advantage of its players at the high-school, college, or professional levels. Further, 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. Perhaps the worst of it, Almond states bluntly, is that fans bear more responsible than they acknowledge, as they continue to watch greedily and passively despite being aware of these facts. Throughout, Almond anticipates his opponents’ responses, pointing out that many will take issue with his diatribe. Fortunately, Almond is drawing on his own experiences as a fan to illustrate how difficult the problem, which provides the book with an engaging personal angle that will lure readers who are mature enough to hear him out whether they agree with his conclusions.. An important read, even if as Almond concedes, it offers more questions than answers. (Sept.)