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Marketing the Myth and Managing the Reality of Major League Baseball
Smart Ball follows Major League Baseball's history as a sport, a domestic monopoly, a neocolonial power, and an international business. MLB's challenge has been to market its popular mythology as the national pastime with pastoral, populist roots while addressing the management challenges of competing with other sports and diversions in a burgeoning global economy. Baseball researcher Robert F. Lewis II argues that MLB for years abused its legal insulation and monopoly status through arrogant treatment of its fans and players and static management of its business. As its privileged position eroded eroded in the face of increased competition from other sports and union resistance, it awakened to its perilous predicament and began aggressively courting athletes and fans at home and abroad. Using a detailed marketing analysis and applying the principles of a "smart power" model, the author assesses MLB's progression as a global business brand that continues to appeal to a consumer's sense of an idyllic past in the midst of a fast-paced, and often violent, present.
David Beckham’s arrival in Los Angeles represents the latest attempt to jump-start soccer in the United States where, David Wangerin says, it “remains a minority sport.” With the rest of the globe so resolutely attached to the game, why is soccer still mostly dismissed by Americans?
Calling himself “a soccer fan born in the wrong country at nearly the wrong time,” Wangerin writes with wit and passion about the sport’s struggle for acceptance in Soccer in a Football World. A Wisconsin native, he traces the fragile history of the game from its early capitulation to gridiron on college campuses to the United States’ impressive performance at the 2002 World Cup. Placing soccer in the context of American sport in general, he chronicles its enduring struggle alongside the country’s more familiar pursuits and recounts the shifting attitudes toward the “foreign” game. His story is one that will enrich the perspective of anyone whose heart beats for the sport, and is curious as to where the game has been in America—and where it might be headed.
John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball
For more than a decade, the UCLA dynasty defined college basketball. In twelve seasons from 1964 to 1975, John Wooden's teams won ten national titles, including seven consecutive championships. The Bruins also rose to prominence during a turbulent age of political unrest and youthful liberation. When Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton--the most famous college basketball players of their generation--spoke out against racism, poverty, and the Vietnam War, they carved out a new role for athletes, casting their actions on and off the court in a political light. The Sons of Westwood tells the story of the most significant college basketball program at a pivotal period in American cultural history. It weaves together a story of sports and politics in an era of social and cultural upheaval, a time when college students and college athletes joined the civil rights movement, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and rejected the dominant Cold War culture. This is the story of America's culture wars played out on the basketball court by some of college basketball's most famous players and its most memorable coach.
Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865-1913
Thoroughbred racing was one of the first major sports in early America. Horse racing thrived because it was a high-status sport that attracted the interest of both old and new money. It grew because spectators enjoyed the pageantry, the exciting races, and, most of all, the gambling. As the sport became a national industry, the New York metropolitan area, along with the resort towns of Saratoga Springs (New York) and Long Branch (New Jersey), remained at the center of horse racing with the most outstanding race courses, the largest purses, and the finest thoroughbreds. Riess narrates the history of horse racing, detailing how and why New York became the national capital of the sport from the mid-1860s until the early twentieth century. The sport’s survival depended upon the racetrack being the nexus between politicians and organized crime. The powerful alliance between urban machine politics and track owners enabled racing in New York to flourish. Gambling, the heart of racing’s appeal, made the sport morally suspect. Yet democratic politicians protected the sport, helping to establish the State Racing Commission, the first state agency to regulate sport in the United States. At the same time, racetracks became a key connection between the underworld and Tammany Hall, enabling illegal poolrooms and off-course bookies to operate. Organized crime worked in close cooperation with machine politicians and local police officers to protect these illegal operations. In The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime, Riess fills a long-neglected gap in sports history, offering a richly detailed and fascinating chronicle of thoroughbred racing’s heyday.
African American and Latino Experience in an Era of Change
With essays by Ron Briley, Michael Ezra, Sarah K. Fields, Billy Hawkins, Jorge Iber, Kurt Kemper, Michael E. Lomax, Samuel O. Regalado, Richard Santillan, and Maureen Smith This anthology explores the intersection of race, ethnicity, and sports and analyzes the forces that shaped the African American and Latino sports experience in post-World War II America. Contributors reveal that sports often reinforced dominant ideas about race and racial supremacy but that at other times sports became a platform for addressing racial and social injustices. The African American sports experience represented the continuation of the ideas of Black Nationalism--racial solidarity, black empowerment, and a determination to fight against white racism. Three of the essayists discuss the protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. In football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and track and field, African American athletes moved toward a position of group strength, establishing their own values and simultaneously rejecting the cultural norms of whites. Among Latinos, athletic achievement inspired community celebrations and became a way to express pride in ethnic and religious heritages as well as a diversion from the work week. Sports was a means by which leadership and survival tactics were developed and used in the political arena and in the fight for justice. Michael E. Lomax is associate professor of health and sport studies at the University of Iowa and the author of Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary. Kenneth L. Shropshire is David W. Hauck Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and director of the school's Sports Business initiative.
Mormon Recreation, 1890-1940
If a religion cannot attract and instruct young people, it will struggle to survive, which is why recreational programs were second only to theological questions in the development of twentieth-century Mormonism. In this book, Richard Ian Kimball explores how Mormon leaders used recreational programs to ameliorate the problems of urbanization and industrialization and to inculcate morals and values in LDS youth. As well as promoting sports as a means of physical and spiritual excellence, Progressive Era Mormons established a variety of institutions such as the Deseret Gymnasium and camps for girls and boys, all designed to compete with more "worldly" attractions and to socialize adolescents into the faith._x000B__x000B_Kimball employs a wealth of source material including periodicals, diaries, journals, personal papers, and institutional records to illuminate this hitherto underexplored aspect of the LDS church. In addition to uncovering the historical roots of many Mormon institutions still visible today, Sports in Zion is a detailed look at the broader functions of recreation in society.
The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and Player Unrest in 1946
But while the nation was riveted by the return of its beloved baseball heroes, the game behind the scenes was just as dramatic. As the threat of unionization loomed and the Mexican League continued to lure players away from the United States with lucrative contracts, tensions between players and team owners mounted. The result was a standoff for control of the game that would culminate in the Magna Carta of baseball and the creation of standard contracts for players, ushering in the modern era of baseball.
Set against the backdrop of a country recovering from war, facing the new adversary of Communism, and absorbing the emotional impact of the atomic bomb, The Stars Are Back tells the story of a nation hungry for a return to normalcy and a game poised on the brink of new horizons.
The Globalization of Baseball and the Tragic Story of Alexis Quiroz
While some Latin American superstars have overcome discrimination to strike gold in baseball's big leagues, thousands more Latin American players never make it to "The Show." Stealing Lives focuses on the plight of one Venezuelan teenager and documents abuses that take place against Latin children and young men as baseball becomes a global business. The authors reveal that in their efforts to secure cheap labor, Major League teams often violate the basic human rights of children.
As a young boy growing up in Venezuela, Alexis Quiroz dreamed of playing in the Major Leagues. Alexis's dreams were like those of thousands of other boys in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, and Major League teams encouraged such dreams by recruiting Latin children as young as 10 and 11 years old. Determined to become a big league player, Alexis finished high school early and dedicated himself to landing a contract with a Major League team. Alexis signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1995 at age 17 and then began a harrowing ordeal of exploitation, mistreatment, and disrespect at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, including playing for the Cubs' Dominican Summer League team in appalling living conditions. Alexis's baseball career came to an abrupt end by an injury for which the Cubs provided no adequate medical treatment. The story continues, however, with Alexis's pursuit of justice in the United States to ensure that other Venezuelan and Dominican boys do not encounter similar experiences.
What happened to Alexis is not an isolated case-Major League teams routinely deny Latin children and young men the basic protections that their U.S. counterparts take for granted. This exploitation violates international legal standards on labor standards and the human rights of children. Stealing Lives concludes by analyzing various reforms to redress the inequities big league baseball creates in its globalization.
Henry Aaron and the Legend of Eau Claire Baseball
June 12, 1952—only a local sportswriter showed up at the Eau Claire airport to greet a newly signed eighteen-year-old shortstop from Alabama toting a cardboard suitcase. "I was scared as hell," said Henry Aaron, recalling his arrival as the new recruit on the city’s Class C minor league baseball team.
Forty-two years later, as Aaron approached the stadium where the Eau Claire Bears once played, an estimated five thousand people surrounded a newly raised bronze statue of a young "Hank" Aaron at bat. "I had goosebumps," he said later. "A lot of things happened to me in my twenty-three years as a ballplayer, but nothing touched me more than that day in Eau Claire." For the people of Eau Claire, Aaron’s summer two years before his Major League debut with the Milwaukee Braves symbolizes a magical time, when baseball fans in a small city in northern Wisconsin could live a part of the dream.
The International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City Bid Scandal
Based on extensive research and unparalleled access to primary source material, Tarnished Rings offers an in-depth look at the Salt Lake City Olympic bidding scandal and at the presidency of Juan Antionio Samaranch.