The All-American Addiction
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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This book represents not only the sum of forty years of experience in athletics, but also in a significant way, the input and influence throughout the years of many family members, friends, teammates, teachers, and coaches. A few, in particular, deserve mention: My brothers, Greg and Tom, and my sister, Jeannie, whose advice, support, and perspective have always been, and will...
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I have been involved in organized athletics my entire life in virtually every capacity imaginable—as a player, a youth league coach, as a fan, and as a youth and college administrator. I believe very strongly that participation in athletics can teach valuable life lessons in ethics, discipline, and teamwork. There is no question in my mind that athletics can contribute in...
1. The Essence of the Game
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The summer after I had decided to stop chasing the dream of a career in the NBA, a college teammate was getting married in Charlotte, North Carolina. The church was not more than a mile from the arena in which we had played most of our college games. I was in the wedding....
2. Buying In
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It is hard to imagine how a coach, chasing his son around the batting cage with a bat, screaming about not being disciplined at the plate, could possibly be a good thing. But there we were, watching silently, none of us all that surprised or terribly upset at what we were seeing. We had witnessed enough incidents where coaches screamed and yelled at their players. Although...
3. The All-American Addiction
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I know the addiction well. I have spent countless hours at games, watching them on television, or reading about them in newspapers and magazines. I have to willfully resist snapping on the television to check out that night’s big game, or to catch a quick sports news update from ESPN. I am drawn to it like...
4. Sport and a Civil Society
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With only a few minutes left in a close game, I stepped to the foul line for a free throw. We were playing North Carolina State in Reynolds Coliseum, their home court in Raleigh. As the official handed me the ball, I noticed the fans behind the basket, veins popping out of their necks, eyes red with rage and bulging from their sockets, screaming at the top of their lungs for me to miss. I was certain that their heads would...
5. Dumb Jocks in the Global Economy
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The evolution of sport in America is strikingly similar to that of athletics in ancient Greece. In both cases, as sport grew in popularity, so did the rewards that came with success. Increased prize money and the prospects of becoming a widely recognized celebrity heightened the emphasis placed upon winning, resulting in increased “professionalization” of athletics. The consequences of such developments in...
6. The Athlete as Couch Potato
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Each March, America is overcome by “madness.” Throughout the country, sports fans, both casual and hard-core, focus their attention on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In bars and bakeries, at the dinner table and over phone lines, people catch the madness. Office pools are organized and parties are thrown as television screens everywhere are tuned to “the Big Dance,” as teams from Boise to Bloomington; Athens...
7. Give Me Your Money!
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You open the morning newspaper and see a picture of the owner of your local professional sports team next to an article entitled “Owner Demands Concessions.” The owner complains about how difficult it has become to compete against teams from larger markets. Citing escalating player salaries, increased travel costs, and a stadium that, despite being built only twenty years ago, is outdated, the owner cries out for...
8. Sport and Upward Mobility
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During the 1997 season, Major League baseball celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking its color barrier. In virtually every account of this event, sport was credited as one of the most progressive and discrimination-free enterprises in our society. Advocates have long claimed that sport is a unique entity in this regard because in athletics, your worth is determined...
9. “Get over It!”
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As we enter a new millennium, many of our American institutions are being scrutinized to determine their societal relevance in the next century. From our schools to our welfare system, old ideas, institutions, and philosophies are being examined, revised, or discarded, replaced by new ones more acceptable to the age with the...
10. Mind over Body in the Information Age
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American education has tacitly endorsed, and our society celebrates, a culture that accepts the notion that it is an educational institution’s responsibility to provide the very best in facilities, coaching, and support so that elite athletes have every opportunity to develop their athletic abilities to the fullest. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to provide the resources and support to help an individual develop fully as an athlete. The...
11. What If?
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Our enormous investment in organized sport has been justified largely on the health and educational benefits to participants. Beyond the individual benefits, are the alleged societal benefits—athletics as an important socialization tool and an economic force, as well as a means of improving military preparedness...
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Publication Year: 2002