(Kansas City, Missouri) - Football's rise from sport to religion is about to be reconfirmed, with 85,000 fans in Glendale, Arizona, and a global TV audience of more than 100 million obsessing February 1, 2015, over Super Bowl Sunday.
Steve Almond sees the allure. "I happen to believe football, in its exalted moments, is not just a sport but a lovely and intricate form of art," the best-selling author says in his new book.
Its title — Against Football — signals his overriding concerns.
Almond sits down with longtime Kansas City TV sports anchor (and former Villanova University football standout) Frank Boal on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., for a conversation about Almond's unflinching take on America's pastime. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
The book, Almond says, is "a lamentation ... about something you love but have to give up." He has concluded that football simply isn't good for us. Players suffer brain damage. Children and teenagers are susceptible to the same injuries and the same debilitating, long-term effects. Beyond that is a question of whether our addiction to football fosters a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia.
And so the lifelong fan of the NFL's Oakland Raiders has made the difficult decision to go cold turkey. Football Sundays are spent with family, not in front of a television. The sport still calls to him. But on moral grounds, he resists.
Almond concludes Against Football with a list of suggestions. Among them: issuing parental discretion warnings before games as a heads-up to the "hundreds of acts of real violence," instituting a weight limit for pro players and/or teams, and prohibiting tackle football for high school players who've not yet turned 16.
Almond, who was raised in Palo Alto, California, contributes to The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times. His 2005 book, Candy Freak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, was a best-seller and recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award, given to works for adults that have special appeal to young adults.
Boal has been a fixture on Kansas City television for more than three decades, now working as sports anchor for NBC affiliate KSHB after 28 years as sports director at Fox's WDAF. He also is heard regularly on sports radio station WHB. A star running back in high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he was a three-year starter and co-captain at Villanova in the late 1960s and still holds the school record for punt return yardage in a career.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.