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What does it mean when a hit that knocks a human being unconscious is experienced as pleasurable by viewers? When these athletes and their families are suffering long-term damage from this harm and yet such suffering is rarely put into narrative? And when a players tattoos or social media controversies results in greater attention and litigation than the social stances of players?
This book brings together scholars, writers and commentators to examine the relationship between football, violence and the larger relations of power in which we all live our lives. Within the context of the NFL and the structural conditions in which the NFL has emerged, this book explores issues of racism, sexism and homophobia as a window into the social, political and cultural imprint of America’s national pastime. The book argues that the NFL reveals a collective psychic participation, by which our subjectivity is formed within historical systems of violence, power, and hierarchy. The NFL’s participation in and production of hegemonic masculinity, alongside its practices of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism, allows us to think deeply about the historical and contemporary systems of violence we are invested in and entertained by. Football becomes a cultural text to examine and learn from. The book also recognizes that the NFL also performs good in the world, drawing together communities, providing platforms for players to reach out to young athletes across class and race, and to inspire the best in what sports offers people. Through an analysis of American football and intersecting social issues, this book provides a language for critique that can generate conversation and accountability.