There is so much more to like about Season of Life than not. To begin with, challenging stereotypes of masculinity, doing so with sensitivity and actually managing to put up a convincing argument is quite an achievement. Marx has written a book about a potentially controversial subject. However, by using the backdrop of college football, he touches a nerve that almost every American is bound to respond to, and positively at that. This, I believe, is the mark of a genius. For a person who has been a part of the sports fraternity, writing a book that questions the leadership approach of coaches, the lifestyles of players and their ‘true’ quality of life, is a bold move and should be commended. The book has been described as a sports book. However, I feel that it has a greater scope and its teachings are applicable to all walks of life. The philosophy of ‘Building men for others’ is very insightful to, for example, parents who are looking to raise their boys to be good men.
Season of life is a book that addresses so many issues, small and big, all within a single storyline that lasts a mere 177 pages. While many readers will appreciate that the book is a ‘quick read’, I felt that the author may have sacrificed focus to conciseness. While Marx sufficiently conveys his message to audiences that are already aware of and sensitive towards the stereotyping of masculinity, he may not be able to convince those who believe this stereotype to be true. Considering that it is this segment of the audience that the book needs to influence, the topic could have been more persuasive. On the same note, I felt that, while the book may be useful in changing perceptions at the college football level, its applicability in the professional leagues is questionable. In an industry that is driven by strength, aggression, glamour and money, the acceptance of a ‘Love each other’ philosophy is doubtful.
Marx addresses the stereotyping of masculinity by measures of athletic ability, sexual promiscuity and financial exuberance. He gently steers the reader away from this view to one where men can unabashedly be sensitive, focusing on building relationships and valuing life and not materialism. The message is loud and clear that, if a football team can induce love and respect into their actions and still be manly, then every man can. Marx highlights the importance of having the right leaders to guide the youth, whether the leader is a parent, a teacher, a coach or any senior member of the society. Joe and Biff use their ‘Build men for others’ philosophy to transform the perception of masculinity among their team players so that they lead lives that are more fulfilling and not shallow. This approach can be used to anyone who is involved in bringing up or educating boys. For a management student, the book teaches that, having a fresh or different perspective towards your job or responsibility often leads to a positive change.
False masculinity is a concept that cannot, and should not, be chased if a man is looking to lead a fulfilled life; it is love, respect, and meaningful relationships that make life worth living.
Marx, J. (2003). Season of life - A football star, a boy, a journey to manhood. New York: Simon & Schuster.