Why Samoans Are So Overrepresented in the NFL

It All Started in Hawaiʻi on Oahu's North Shore, Where Plantation Managers and Mormon Elders Nurtured Generations of Football Stars

Long before Oahu’s North Shore became a global hot spot for football, it was a pu`uhonua, a refuge under the protection of priests. Fugitives and villagers escaping the carnage of island warfare, or punishment for violating the traditional code of conduct, found sanctuary there—as long as they abided by the priests’ rules. But Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawai‘i in 1778 shattered the islands’ epidemiological seclusion and triggered widespread death, including Cook’s. And these priestly havens crumbled after Kamehameha I occupied the island in the 1790s and eliminated them.

In the …

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How the NFL and American Politicians Politicized (and Helped Merchandise) Pro Football

In the '60s and '70s, Gridiron Fans Like Richard Nixon and Bobby Kennedy Embraced the Sport That Wanted Their Attention

In January 1942, as the United States committed itself fully to World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt decided that baseball, then the national pastime, should sustain civilian morale during the …

In California, Pro Football Is for Losers

As Big Cities Shed the NFL, Only Smaller, Poorer Cities Are Desperate Enough to Host Teams

No one can know for sure whether any of California’s four National Football League teams—the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers—will emerge as big winners in the new season.

But we already …

Professional Football Has a California Problem

Three Teams Want to Come to L.A., but I've Got Better Ideas

Pro football has a “California problem.”

So say some of the most powerful people in the sport. And as a new National Football League season kicks off this weekend, they are …

Who Wins the Doobie Bowl?

Super Bowl Opponents Colorado and Washington Have Both Legalized Marijuana. But Only One State Can Declare Victory.

There will be smoke at the 2014 Super Bowl—at least in the living rooms of some Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos fans. Sunday’s contest pits the two states that have …

Can a Football Addict Quit the NFL?

I’m Horrified By What The Sport Does to Its Players. But That Didn’t Make Severing Ties Any Easier.

Sunday’s national holiday has me feeling stressed out. The holiday, of course, is the Super Bowl, as likely to clear the streets and bring family together as Christmas. But this …