Is there anything more universally American than NFL football? Love of the NFL runs deep and broad. It is a primetime TV event on multiple national networks, subsidized by public funds and popular from Mount Rainier to Miami Beach.
The 2015 Super Bowl, a thriller between the Patriots and Seahawks, was the most-watched program in the history of television, with more than a third of the country watching. Yet football is in trouble. Public anxiety over football spiked in 2014 during the heat of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, the ongoing concussion crisis and the league's appropriations of tax money for its own ends.
The mounting problems have led some to question the ethics of watching America's beloved game. In this sharply argued, witty, observant book, Gregg Easterbrook makes a spirited case in defense of the NFL.
As he shows, the league brings together Americans of all stripes, providing a rare space to talk about what matters.
Indeed, the various issues we see in the league are often microcosms of the ones we see elsewhere, whether it's suspicion of the rich, or gender politics or even concern over bullying. The NFL's social, economic and legal problems are real, but they also produce some of our best and most valuable discussions of those issues.
Football is a magnificent incarnation of our national character.
It has many flaws, and they need fixing--but the game's not over.