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How Football Explains America
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How Football Explains America

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Using some of the most prominent voices in pro sports and cultural and media criticism, How Football Explains America is a fascinating, first-of-its-kind journey through the making of America's most complex, intriguing, and popular game. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio’s explores just how crucial football is to understanding the American psyche. Interspersed with memorable images f ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Triumph Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Kris
I picked this up in my futile attempt to marginally understand the love for the sport that 98% of my family is absolutely obsessed with – the sport I openly question and scoff at during family parties, while angrily munching on chips and burying my nose in a book on C. S. Lewis.

Gee. Hmm. I wonder why I still don't understand football...
Ah. It’s written by a sportscaster. One of THEM.
I should have known.

Between the flimsy arguments, weak topics, useless play-by-play descriptions, incessant name-d
...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Sadly, this was not as interesting as I hoped. There are some interesting bits of football trivia, but this book is mostly style without substance. The essays on "How Football Explains the 60s" and "How Football Explains Show Business" are of better quality than the rest, though.

Oh, and "SalPal" should apologize to Franklin Foer for stealing riffing on the title of his book and then producing this meh product. (Extra fail points for confusing reign/rein and their/there.)
James Dunphy
I got this book for Christmas years ago, and it's taken me this long to read it. I'm mad at myself I did.
Most pigskin fans aren't big readers. Copies of S.I are as far as most of my sports-jockey friends get anyway. Part of the charm of this book is it's modest length and breezy language. You can drop this baby on the top of your man's toilet, and it'll be done in 5 poops.
What Sal Paolantonio manages to capture in this book is part a telling of the history of both how football and the NFL de
...more
Aaron
Just to say it: I really wanted to enjoy this book. I'm a bona fide football nut and I have a huge appreciation for Sal Paolantonio's editorial work on ESPN. Those two together should have made for a really enjoyable reading experience, but I just couldn't like this book.

Throughout, Sal attaches characteristics of football to those found in other "artifacts" of American history (Manifest Destiny, the unique American art form of jazz, etc.). While reading Sal's conclusions, I consistently found m
...more
Adam N.


How Football Explains America
Read and You’ll Find Out
Think of what explains you. Now think of what explains America, what about football. How Football Explains America is a book written by Sal Paolantonio. The genre of this book is short stories. That means that it has no main characters or any one particular setting. My rating of this book would be three out of five stars. I thought that there were a lot of stories, but I would have liked more detail about the stories. This book tells you how
...more
hamptonenglish10
Jan 07, 2013 hamptonenglish10 marked it as to-read
Seve DiBucci
English 10
Period 9
7 January 2013
There are many different theories people have of who or what shaped America. Some people think that we had leaders that shaped our country, but still others think science made us who we are today. Sal Paolantono, the author of "How Football Explains America", a nonfiction story telling book, thinks that sports shaped America and in particular he thinks that football shaped America. This book tells many stories from the Civil War to Manifest Desitiny an
...more
Sandy
A painfully written book that manages to have interesting bits of football history and sports writing sprinkled throughout it, which is the only thing that drags it out of the one star cellar. I was intrigued by the main premise of this book - "Why has football never managed to catch on in any country except America?" - but it failed to live up to my expectations.

Each chapter starts out with a simplistic, sometimes patronizing main hypothesis like "America Loves Football Because They Love Manif
...more
Craig Phillips
How Football Can Be Vaguely Associated with Several American Historical Landmark Events while Dishing Up Some Great Football Stories would have been the more accurate title.

Paolantonio states his thesis that the game of football can be used to describe the American pysche briefly in the preface and make vague hand gestures at the concept through the rest of the book. This book doesn't do what it claims and is certainly not a complete history of the game (which the author readily admits) - but so
...more
Mark
By no means does this work challenge the examination of sport in America on the level of a James Michener or a David Halberstam, but I loved it...Yes being a football coach and historian/political scientist helps, but, by no means, is that a requirement to enjoy it...Paolantonio accurately places football and the NFL in our social/political/historical underpinnings of being an "exceptional" nation...I particularily sat up with Victor Davis Hanson's quote, "The values that made America exceptiona ...more
Glen
The title of this book is an unfulfilled promissory note. Football does not explain America, anymore than the Boy Scouts explain the Roman Legion, so don't read this book if you are not already a die-hard football fan. If you are though, you will enjoy the historical tidbits about the game and some of the author's journalistic panache. If you are not a fan you will merely scoff at the far-fetched analogies and wonder at how anyone could care about the minutiae of a game that can seem so complica ...more
Mark
Sal P. does a great job of connecting the dots (so to speak) between American history & culture and the rise of professional football. I don't think the book actually EXPLAINS America... but I do think you can see why modern American football has such amazing cultural resonance.

I'd recommend to anyone who's a pro football fan - the philosophical stuff is well-written and doesn't bog down the narrative of the development of football.
Emily
Apr 02, 2009 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sports and history buffs
Sal Paolantonio is a prolific sports reporter/writer who has also been in the military and an officer in the Philadelphia police department. When I saw he had this book out, I read it because I am a fan of his and of the subject matter. He has a real reverence for football history and American history. His writing is intelligent and the chapters tell separate stories but everything ties together as well.
Andrea
This was a good book with lots of interesting football facts. I enjoyed learning more about the history of the NFL and of football. It seemed a bit of stretch, some of the connections he tried to make, but he interviewed a lot of famous players, coaches, and announcers, so it was full of good quotes from well-known people. A good, light read for people who like football.
Elisa
This was an interesting mix of history, football, and personal stories from the author who has covered football for a long time.
Football is uniquely American and this book explores why that is, comparing to our own american history.
i would recommend to any football lover.
Greg
Make no mistake, this book is 95% football and 5% America. Even though Paolantonio doesn't really explain America using football, his narratives are well written and give added cultural significance to historic football events and people.
Mark
Dec 22, 2008 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mark by: Michael Smirconish
It was alright. Quick read, interesting perspective. He was kind of reaching a little sometimes. However, it was very interesting to think about why football is so wildly popular and everything else isn't in America.
Joseph Stec
This book can really be described as a collection of a thousand loosely connected dots, and while that leads to the premise of the book never being fully articulated and realized, it was still an interesting read.
Scott
Great refresher of football history and how the game was shaped. Some moderately insightful analysis in regards to the "explaining America" claim, but I enjoyed it more for the discussion of players and teams of old.
Laurie
I thought this was okay, not as gripping as I expected. I found it difficult to follow because he kept going from the present to the past, and my knowledge of the history of football wasn't good enough to follow....
Rob Rausch
Surprisingly entertaining series of essays, considering I'm not even a huge fan of football. A little too intellectual at times, but some clever comparisons between football, history, and pop culture.
Beth
Mar 19, 2009 Beth rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: sports
While I liked the actual football stories, I found that Paolantonio tried too hard to make a correlation between football and the subjects of his chapters. Football and Manifest Destiny, really?
Anwar
I loved this book, filled with interesting early facts about the game, how the "huddle" came about. Especially good read for New York Giant fans emphasizes the 2007 Superbowl season
Anna
A fun way of looking at how football grew to become the REAL American game. Ties in history and pop culture nicely.
Paul
Fascinating history of American football and how its development reflects American Culture.
Andrew
Really awful. Pretty close to straight NFL propaganda.
SJF
onside kick!
Elin
Elin marked it as to-read
Jan 26, 2015
Jesus Medina
Jesus Medina marked it as to-read
Jan 09, 2015
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