It’s been a bad year for football: Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, the lingering Jameis Winston saga. And a bad year for football means a big year for think pieces about violence and football—I couldn’t tell you how many of those I read this year. But one of them stood out. In “Together We Make Football,” Louisa Thomas reflects on the uncomfortable relationship between the NFL, masculinity, violence, and women. She takes her time, building a case slowly and methodically, before driving home her point: that violence is inherent to, and integral to, the NFL. That although the vast majority of football players don’t beat their wives, there may be no way to separate the bad violence—the off-field violence—from the on-field violence that we love. Here’s Thomas: Read more…
Athletes and sports writers usually come from two completely different professional worlds and as a result there is often an emotional wall between the two of them. At times, on the page, it can almost read as if two are speaking vastly different languages.
The British journalist John Cagney Nash solved this problem by somehow landing himself in the same jail in Montana as Ryan Leaf, the one-time future of the NFL and now its biggest draft bust. Over the course of a few months the two became friends and Leaf was able to open up with his fellow inmate in a way we rarely get to read about.
For years since Leaf’s retirement he’s been seen as little more than a pathetic example for all that can go wrong with the draft. Thanks to Nash’s deft touch we’re able see him as human, and at times Leaf’s honesty is downright heartbreaking.
Ross Andersen is a Senior Editor at Aeon Magazine. He has written extensively about science and philosophy for several publications, including The Atlantic and The Economist.
“Flinder Boyd’s piece about an aspirational streetballer and his cross-country trip to New York’s legendary Rucker Park had me from the very first word. The story is about basketball, a minor obsession of mine, but it’s also about poverty and the kinds of dreams it nurtures. Boyd gives us an unflinching portrait of his subject, an underskilled, overconfident young ballplayer from Sacramento without ever stripping him of his dignity as a human being. I read it twice, straight through.”