Against Football

Here we are in the middle of arguably the biggest football weekend of the year so what better time to read ‘Against Football’ by Steve Almond which makes the case that society would be better off without football.

Not entirely sold but there were arguments that I found applicable to other fields where a deleterious structure is maintained to benefit an influential minority at the expense of a bemused/amused majority.  Some excerpts…..

Ironic distance allows us to separate ourselves from the big, complicated moral systems around us (political, religious, familial), to sit in judgment of others rather than ourselves. (pages 4-5)

I happen to believe that our allegiance to football legitimizes and even fosters within us a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia. (page 6)

Americans are being bombarded by facts at this point in our history. Sea levels rose 3.2 millimeters last year. The Nikkei average is down 6 percent. Dick Cheney remains sentient. The problem isn’t that these facts are bad, though most are. It’s that we have no larger context in which to place them. We don’t really know what they mean. The reason I’ll spend five minutes reading about whether the second-string running back for the Arizona Cardinals is going to show up for training camp is because that fact plugs into a system of loyalties I do understand. (page 21)

the big dance of capitalism: how to keep morality from gumming up the gears of profit, how to convince people to make bad decisions without seeing them as bad. We have whole industries devoted to this voodoo, the dark arts of advertising, marketing, public relations, lobbying. (page 41)

[NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell has made business decisions. He’s done just enough – purged the deniers, tweaked the rules, funded research – to allow us fans to pretend that the league gives a damn. He’s placed his faith in our capacity for self-delusion. (page 47)

Football is the ultimate bourgeois indulgence. Its civic function is to distract the proletariat from the aims of the revolution and to serve as a means of indoctrination into thought systems that are individualistic and materialist. (page 73)

The NFL – unlike the NBA and Major League Baseball – is tax-exempt. How did this happen?…Back in 1966, when the league was hashing out a deal with Congress that would allow it to merge with the AFL, lobbyists managed to insert a provision into the tax code allowing “professional football leagues” to be granted not-for-profit status. All the NFL had to do was pledge not to schedule games on Friday nights or Saturdays, to avoid competing with high school and college games. (page 81)

I was rooting for my own acumen. (page 83)

College football is the arranged marriage of two entities: an institution of higher learning and an athletic industry. It is corrupt and illogical and wildly entertaining and lucrative, which means a legion of lawyers and ad men and sports journalists are handsomely paid to defend and promote its corruption and illogic while the rest of us watch. (page 124)

we spend more and more of our time consuming sacrificial entertainments, programs in which the central allure is watching people damage each other and themselves. (page 153)

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about America is how much we trumpet our freedom of speech and, at the same time, how little use we make of it, how obedient we are to public consensus. As a population, we generally agree to regard that which is popular as worthy and that which is convenient as necessary. And we shy from even the most obvious statements of truth if they puncture our prevailing myths. (page 159)

What about the good old “lame stream” media? How often do they dig beneath the glossy veneer of Big Football? (page 165)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 it practitioners, and fattens a pack of gluttonous corporations? The real problem here….is that our citizens refuse to become cognizant. (pages 168-9)

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by skip3house on January 2, 2015 at 9:21 am

    The bottomless Volume of trivial ‘facts’ only competes with $18Trillion debt for worthless beyond our ability to comprehend.


  2. Posted by skip3house on January 2, 2015 at 6:48 pm


    No matter which side you are on in the matter of renaming the Washing Redskins, this is funny.

    Here is an e-mail sent to Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune after an article he published concerning a name change for the Washington Redskins.

    Dear Mr. Page…

    I agree with our Native American population. I am highly insulted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward.

    Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns.

    The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60’s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.

    The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives.

    I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres.

    Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!

    Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.

    The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic. Wrong message to our children.

    The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our children.

    The Milwaukee Brewers. Well that goes without saying. Wrong message to our children.

    So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing the do-nothing Congress loves.

    As a diehard Oregon State fan, my wife and I, with all of this in mind, suggest it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than “the Beavers (especially when they play Southern California. Do we really want the Trojans sticking it to the Beavers???)

    I always love your articles and I generally agree with them. As for the Redskins name I would suggest they change the name to the “Foreskins” to better represent their community, paying tribute to the dick heads in Congress


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