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The Economic Rise of the NFL during the 1950s
The National Football League has long reigned as America’s favorite professional sports league. In its early days, however, it was anything but a dominant sports industry, barely surviving World War II. Its rise began after the war, and the 1950s was a pivotal decade for the league. Run to Glory and Profits tells the economic story of how in one decade the NFL transformed from having a modest following in the Northeast to surpassing baseball as this country’s most popular sport.
To break from the margins of the sports landscape, pro football brought innovation, action, skill, and episodic suspense on “any given Sunday.” These factors in turn drove attendance and rising revenues. Team owners were quick to embrace television as a new medium to put the league in front of a national audience. Based on primary documents, David George Surdam provides an economic analysis in telling the business story behind the NFL’s rise to popularity. Did the league’s vaunted competitive balance in the decade result from its more generous revenue sharing and its reverse-order draft? How did the league combat rival leagues, such as the All-America Football Conference and the American Football League? Although strife between owners and players developed quickly, pro-football fans stayed loyal because the product itself remained so good.
How American Sports Challenged the Black Freedom Struggle
In 1968, noted sociologist Harry Edwards established the Olympic Project for Human Rights, calling for a boycott of that year's games in Mexico City as a demonstration against racial discrimination in the United States and around the world. Though the boycott never materialized, Edwards's ideas struck a chord with athletes and incited African American Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos to protest by raising their black-gloved fists on the podium after receiving their medals. Sidelined draws upon a wide range of historical materials and more than forty oral histories with athletes and administrators to explore how the black athletic revolt used professional and college sports to promote the struggle for civil rights in the late 1960s. Author Simon Henderson argues that, contrary to popular perception, sports reinforced the status quo since they relegated black citizens to stereotypical roles in society. By examining activists' successes and failures in promoting racial equality on one of the most public stages in the world, Henderson sheds new light on an often-overlooked subject and gives voice to those who fought for civil rights both on the field and off.
The Story of the Rochester Red Wings
Taking us back to the early nineteenth century, when baseball was played in the meadows and streets of Rochester, New York, Silver Seasons and a New Frontier retraces the careers of the players and managers who honed their skills at Silver Stadium and later at Frontier Field. The many greats who played for the Rochester Red Wings—Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Jr., Bob Gibson, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, and Justin Morneau—are among those brought to life in this story rich with quirky performances and poignant moments. This updated version of Silver Seasons: The Story of the Rochester Red Wings, published in 1996, includes three new chapters covering the team’s record-setting tenth International League championship, being named top minor league franchise by Baseball America, and their new affiliation with the Minnesota Twins.
George Sisler, Baseball's Forgotten Great
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.
Perhaps no other activity is more synonymous with passion, identity, bodily ideals, and the power of place than sport. As the essays in this volume show, the function of sport as a historical and cultural marker is particularly relevant in Latin America. From the late nineteenth century to the present, the contributors reveal how sport opens a wide window into local, regional, and national histories. The essays examine the role of sport as a political vehicle, in claims to citizenship, as a source of community and ethnic pride, as a symbol of masculinity or feminism, as allegorical performance, and in many other purposes. Sports Culture in Latin American History juxtaposes analyses of better-known activities such as boxing and soccer with first peoples’ athletics in Argentina, Cholita wrestling in Bolivia, the African-influenced martial art of capoeira, Japanese Brazilian gateball, the “Art Deco” body ideal for post-revolutionary Mexican women, Jewish soccer fans in Argentina and transgressive behavior at matches, and other topics. The contributors view the local origins and adaptations of these athletic activities and their significance as insightful narrators of history and culture.