Football, Democracy, and the Huddle

One usually isn’t intellectually stimulated by Sports Talk. Yesterday was an exception. Sports reporter and adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s University Sal Palontonio has a new book out called How Football Explains America. He attempts to show how distinctly American football really is, even how it explains things like Manifest Destiny.

I only heard a snippet yesterday of an interview when he discussed the huddle. Other countries don’t get the “stop” in the action that we call a huddle. He began to explore the formation of the huddle as having its roots in the American ideal of free association. He discussed Alexis de Toqueville’s observation about how uniquely American free association is. And because of this, the huddle simply couldn’t have developed in Europe.

Then he moved on to the 2nd Great Awakening and how widespread free association became as revivals and churches began to spread across the Midwest. The football huddle formed out of this environment, having not only philosophical but religious roots. One of the founding fathers of football was studying divinity at Chicago.

I can neither confirm or deny these assertions, but they sure seemed thought provoking. I will probably order this book soon, once I finish one or two more on my ‘need-to-read’ list. But I’m already beginning to see how football COULD better explain America.

Florida fans, you can’t scoff at this book. He’s been in talks with UF to get this book used in their curriculum! NFL films president Steve Sabol calls this book “an intriguing blend of history, philosophy, and football.” Throw in theology (which I think he already does, and you have a grand-slam).

3 thoughts on “Football, Democracy, and the Huddle

  1. I must be dreaming! I book that cites history, quotes philosophers and explains football must be too good to be true….I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for sharing.Staci

  2. Staci,I can’t recommend it yet, but it does sound fascinating doesn’t it? I heard the dude talk, and he knows more than just Philadelphia Eagles football (I’ll forgive him for that one!). He’s also an adjunct professor so at St. Jospeh’s (thanks Wikipedia) so he’s got to have some smarts. I’ll definitely be ordering it. The question is when…

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