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Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto
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Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,065 ratings  ·  247 reviews
A New York Times Best Seller

“ important read."Publishers Weekly

New York Times
bestselling author Steve Almond takes on America’s biggest sacred cow: football

In Against Football, 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 ser
Hardcover, 178 pages
Published September 26th 2014 by Melville House (first published January 1st 2014)
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 ·  1,065 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Steve Almond is a wonderful writer and a mensch. While this feels more like a long article than an actual book and its ending isn't so strong, I hugely enjoyed Against Football and hope all this week's NFL brouhaha translates into higher sales for Almond's book, which is both a pleasurable and important read.

I'm not the ideal audience for this book since I don't like, watch, or understand football. When I say I don't understand it, I mean I don't understand its basic rules -- they've been explai
Peter Derk
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: petestopof2014
The NFL is a tax-exempt organization.

Let's just begin there before we get any deeper into this. Whether or not you would walk into this review as a huge football fan, if you can't agree that there is a problem when the money-making juggernaut that is the NFL is TAX EXEMPT, then I think you should stop reading right here.

In Against Football, Steve Almond lays out in clear, concise language, the problems with American football, of which there are many.

I didn't pick up this book because I saw somet
Clif Hostetler
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
This book exposes the dark underbelly of America’s favorite game. Any American (or Canadian) who is morally aware and intellectually honest will have to acknowledge that there are things about American style football that are troubling on many levels. This book is written by a former fan who's experienced a conversion to become a leading critic of the game. And he makes a convincing case.

The book's narrative is a combination memoir, documentary, and cultural critique. Through it all he asks poi
Robert Wechsler
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Besides the fact that it is intelligently written and, relative to most such books, responsibly argued, what makes this book is the way Almond aggregated what otherwise are considered unrelated observations and arguments to show how interrelated, in many ways, football’s problems (and our problems with football) are. As a moderate fan who had just decided to stop watching the sport, I found it valuable not only to find confirmation for my concerns, but also to learn about issues I hadn’t thought ...more
Chris Lytle
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Steve Almond writes about why he is still a football fan, but no longer a fan who watches football. I decided much the same thing after reading "League of Denial" last fall. "Against Football" has strengthened my resolve. I read it in the time it takes to watch a football game, which I no longer feel compelled to do. Like Toto revealing the real Wizard of Oz, Almond pulls back the curtain and reveals the ugly truth about the Football Industrial Complex. No thinking fan will view the game or the ...more
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-shake-my-fist
I've been trying to come up with a clever review for this for about a week, something about all the football-ish stuff I've done as a fan over the years, like most egregiously, the time I deliberately enmeshed myself in a traffic jam after the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1998 just so I could honk my horn on Speer Blvd for two hours with 5000 other fools, or perhaps about how drunk I had to get to watch my perpetual underdog favorites the Cardinals play Amber's Steelers in the 2008 Super Bowl b ...more
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!

Not too long ago, I took a course at my university that would have taken me to a three-day writing conference had I not been forced to drop out at the last second, but one unusual thing about it was that the course required you read three books of your choice from a list of twenty-five. Against Football was on the list because Almond was going to be at the conference. That’s how I found out about this book and put it on my TBR, but now I regret it entirely
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readharder2017
This was pretty good--it's about the many reasons why we as a culture should abandon football, or at least make some serious changes to the game and how it's funded. He covers how football uses taxpayer funds as subsidy, brain injury, violence, exploitation of Black players, and rape culture and how the Athletic Industrial Complex works to cover it all up in the name of capitalism.

#readharder book about sports.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gen-nonfiction
let me be clear about this: i believe our insatiable appetite for football is symptomatic of our imperial decadence, of our quiet desperation for shared dramas in an age of social and psychic atomization, for animal physicality in an era of digital abstraction, for binary thought in an age of moral fragmentation.

but i also believe that watching football indoctrinates americans, that it actually
causes us to be more bellicose, tolerant of cruelty, less empathic, less willing and able to engage wi
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not nearly as one-sided as the title would imply. I almost wish it had a different title so that I could gift it to friends and family who are fans. As it stands, it would immediately raise their hackles.
Steve Almond is an ardent football fan but he is more self aware than most. In this slim volume (short audio) he examines his love of the sport and what brought him to this point while fully examining the perils and pitfalls and most importantly, offering concrete suggestions for ho
Jason Jordan
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
A lifelong Oakland Raiders fan, Steve Almond makes several compelling arguments as to why football or, as he puts it, the "Athletic Industrial Complex" oftentimes does more harm than good. He considers various angles from which to approach and evaluate the sport--health, economics, race, etc.--and in the end addresses the ways in which the game and its policies could be improved from a more ethical, moral standpoint. As a casual fan, who watches some of the games on TV but doesn't attend them no ...more
Justin Tapp
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports, psychology
In 532 A.D., nearly half the city of Constantinople was destroyed, and thousands were killed, by a riot brought on by a fight between factions of different sporting teams, the Blues and Greens. Sports had become intertwined with politics and ones loyalty to his faction/team trumped his loyalty to religion. This event occurred long before football, modern capitalism, marketing, or television -- which itself cuts into Almond's thesis. Almond does not mention this event or other historical events, ...more
Bryan Winchell
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a football fan for most of my 41 years, this is probably the most important book I've read this year. And for me to be reading it during the week the horrid Ray Rice spousal abuse video was released and the photos of Adrian Peterson's 4-year-old son's battered body, who he hit with tree branches to "teach him some discipine," seems like a cosmic coincidence that I shouldn't ignore.

I admit it, I did do my usual thing of getting up before dawn here in Japan to watch college and pro games this w
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I miss football.

For a few years, I’ve had a harder and harder time justifying my enjoyment of football. In addition to the big media stories, too many of my favorite players have sustained serious injuries. More and more, I’ve felt like a Roman in the Coliseum. Watching football made me feel like a hypocrite.

But it’s football. Football! Do you know how much fun it is to watch football? To spend a fourth quarter standing on your couch because the stress of a close game is just too much to take wh
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Very thought-provoking treatise on the damaging effects that playing football has on the bodies of athletes at all levels. It is tough to read this when one is a fan of football whether it is watching Pop Warner league, high school, college, professional or any combination thereof.

Football is inherently violent if it is tackle football which all organized football is in the US. We are all now aware of how damaging concussions are which are sustained by boys and men at each level of play. Steve
Sean Owen
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a terrible and misleading title for such a brilliant and complex book. From the title one would expect a simple and straight forward argument against the nation's favorite and highly problematic sport. That sort of argument is awfully easy to make if you were never a fan and never understood the appeal in the first place. That kind of book wouldn't be much of an argument at all. Almond actually talks about that sort of thing in "Against Football" as "pandering to our moral sensibilities." T ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-criticism
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
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I desperately wanted to hate this book. I hoped that it would be trite, simplistic, and altogether too snarky. Sadly, except for the snarky part, I was disappointed. It was intelligent, complex, and replete with the moral ambiguities inherent in the sport itself. It didn't moralize or judge, but presented a strong case along with historical and social context against football. I like football (as does the author, though a Raiders fan??) and I feel that tinge of ugliness when I see a savage hit a ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This short book details, chapter by chapter, the several problems with football as a sport and as a business. Most are well argued, and though the author doesn't provide a solution, he is quite clear on that in the conclusion. He sees his role as provoking discussion.

Like a previous work, the autobiographical parts don't add much for me, and in many cases detract. No actual studies are cited, and there probably are several mentioned in the concussion chapter alone. It would be interesting to cou
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010s
Here's what I wrote in the forum on the book's website.

"I am almost ready to leave behind my enthusiasm for football. I do not know if your book exactly convinced me of much — indeed, much of its argument seems tailored to someone with a more refined sense of morality than I could ever boast of — but it has perhaps help me sort out my increasingly conflicted feelings about the sport. I don’t think I would have picked up the book if I weren’t ready to be swayed.

But like St. Augustine with chastit
Adam Ross
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a great little book. It explores, with profound simplicity, each of the serious problems with American football as a sport. He speaks about the economic drag of the teams on their towns, as well as the high costs of footing the bill for their stadiums on public funds, while giant corporations make all the profits from it. He points out that football manufactures the fragile masculinity that harms boys and society by promoting sexism, racism, and homophobia. He discusses the proven psycholog ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Are we really so spoiled as a nation, in 2014, that we can't curb our appetite for an unnecessarily violent game that degrades our educational system, injures its practitioners, and fattens a pack of gluttonous corporations?"

I was certainly leaning in his direction before reading the book, but Almond pushed me over the edge. I draw the curtain on football--at least in its current configurations in the pro, college and high school ranks. I cannot in good conscience participate. The future will t
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I give this book all of the stars and thumbs up possible.

Almond is a delight to read no matter the subject, but he really hits it out of the park (oh, the sports!) here. Anyone concerned about the recent HS football deaths, concussion headlines, and the NFL, a giant behemoth corporation, being a tax exempt organization will find more fuel for the fire here. Almond expertly handles the complexity of of throttling America's favorite THING while still acknowledging a love of the game by many, incl
Kyle Nicholas
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My only regret about this book is that I can't give it a rating of fifteen stars on Goodreads. This book says everything I've been burning and aching to say about the barbaric "sport" of football but could not because nobody would take me seriously. Steve Almond can say it because he's an actual fan. I've loathed football all my life. This is definitely one of those profound works that everyone must read... and I'd even say write a paper on. (You will be graded.) ...more
John Lamb
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I came to this book skeptical and was shocked how convinced I was by the end. It is hard to disagree with Almond's claims and I can't promise I will change my ways but now I understand why I hate and love football at the same time. ...more
You know, it's not often that I get so pissed off that I can't finish a book that's just short of 200 pages.

Let me clarify my position:

I am a woman. I am not a football fan. Not now, not never. I am at best tolerant of the game, and at worst I deeply resent the annoying, die-hard fans and the NFL's glossing over of the concussion issue. If I ever have a son, it will be a cold day in hell before I sign a permission slip for him to play football whilst still a minor, knowing what I do about how in
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was a decent football fan for quite some time, starting with a misguided attempt to be a "guy's girl" and then moving on to actually being interested in the game. A couple of years ago though I started wondering why I was spending time on something so pointless. Then after the ridiculous backlash against Colin Kaepernick taking a knee in protest of our fellow humans literally being killed in the streets, I decided I was done with football.
I've been meaning to read this book for while as I'm a
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though it pained him, lifelong, self-admitted football superfan Steve Almond reluctantly came to acknowledge how destructive and damaging (in more ways than one) his favorite sport is. Though he focuses in this slim volume primarily on the quite shocking permanent physical, psychological and mental damage players experience over years playing the game, he also calls out the ways in which the NFL organization (which has an astoundingly non-profit tax status) takes advantage of its host cities and ...more
Ben Nourai
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was great because it was both, interesting and entertaining to read. I liked the way the author wrote about his perspective of football. He is a fan of watching football but understands some people don't like it because of the violence. The additional humor he added to his perspective made the book more enjoyable to read. In addition, he used stories from professional football players to talk about the dangers of football. I enjoyed reading this book because I got to learn a lot more a ...more
John Owen
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am not a football fan but I found this book to cover a lot of the reasons people love football. Almond is also a fan and he forces himself to consider what football is about and how unconscionable it is to watch and enjoy a game where the object is to hurt other people. I never watched football with my father. I don't think it was that big when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s. I did watch the Friday Night Fights often with my uncle who lived downstairs and as an adult I enjoyed watching bo ...more
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Steve Almond is the author of two story collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the non-fiction book Candyfreak, and the novel Which Brings Me to You, co-written with Julianna Baggott. He lives outside Boston with his wife and baby daughter Josephine.

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