Like many team sports in Western Europe and North America, American football first emerged as a game for young, upper-class white men. Professional football dates back to 1892, when the first college players began to receive financial compensation for playing. Despite its relative rarity in the art world compared to other sports, artists have long been constrained by the controversial history of football, its rules, its players, and the fervent culture of fandom it inspired to across the United States. The game remains a quintessentially American pastime: playing it, watching it and identifying with its teams and athletes. And the few artists who have explored it since its inception have been drawn to the cultural issues that come with it: the beauty of the male athletic body in motion, celebrity culture, the physical strain and damage that play can cause, the passion it inspires. among fans and pervasive questions about sexism, racism, inclusion, exclusion, exploitation and commercialism.
From honorary sculptures that celebrate athletic worth to lifelike portraits that humanize team members, to abstract prints that raise uncomfortable questions about violence and pain, the following seven artists prove this American cultural phenomenon is ripe for engagement. increasingly diverse artistic scene.