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Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691116204
ISBN-10: 0691116202
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Editorial Reviews


"Reclaiming the Game paints a disappointing picture of the negative influences of college athletics. . . . Bowen and Levin demonstrate repeatedly that recruited athletes get preferential treatment in admissions despite lower SAT scores, underperform academically throughout college, choose easier majors and graduate at a lower percentage. . .. [A]s the athletic-academic gap grows, the need for visionary leadership from college presidents becomes more pressing. Reclaiming the Game provides an
excellent blueprint to do exactly what its title suggests."--Mark Luce, Chicago Tribune

"A work of extensive research, impressive statistical analyses, and excellent writing."--John Savant, Commonweal

"In the comprehensiveness of its research and the solidity of its argument, Reclaiming the Game breaks new ground and probably will become the most influential book in the field for many years. . . . Unlike other proposals for the reform of college sports, Bowen and Levin's do not exist in a vacuum but have been tested in the real world. They actually work."--Murray Sperber, Academe

"Rooted in convincing data, this powerful, thought-provoking work will likely receive wide national attention and will have a substantial impact on campus discussion."--Library Journal

From the Inside Flap

"In Reclaiming the Game, Bill Bowen and Sarah Levin have given us a splendid sequel to The Game of Life. Their admirable analysis of the growing divide between academic values and intercollegiate athletics on our most selective college campuses is meticulous in its documentation, comprehensive in its scope, and troubling in its findings. Bowen and Levin make a compelling case for reform and provide a realistic agenda for achieving it."--Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Emeritus, Cornell University

"Reclaiming the Game is a powerful, thought-provoking book that examines the intersection of intercollegiate athletics with the mission of the institution. Bowen and Levin lay out the challenges facing today's intercollegiate programs and make observations and suggestions to maintain the integrity of athletics within the context of highly selective liberal arts institutions."--Amy Campbell, Director of Athletics and Physical Education, Bryn Mawr College

"Sports play a vibrant part in American college life. The emphasis on them has gotten out of kilter, however, even at the most selective liberal arts colleges. Reclaiming the Game describes a growing gap between intercollegiate athletics and basic academic values. The book is rooted in compelling data. It will be a catalyst for understanding the facts, thinking about how to do better, and actually taking remedial action."--W. Taylor Reveley III, Dean, William & Mary Law School

"Reclaiming the Game is the rare case of a sequel that is even better than a great original. Although some sports enthusiasts will wish this new book could be ignored, it will be hard to dismiss it. Of great practical importance, this book will receive wide national attention and have a substantial impact on campus discussions."--Michael S. McPherson, President, Macalaster College

"This will become a standard reference. It develops fuller and more recent data on the academic performance of varsity athletes than ever before. The book deals especially well with the impact of increasing competition, specialization, and professionalization on coaches."--Michael MacDonald, Williams College


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691116202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691116204
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,618,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William G. Bowen is the author of more than twenty books, including The Shape of the River and Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A measure of the tortured relationship between higher education and sports is the fact that this is the second substantial book by William Bowen on this topic. The former President of Princeton and the present head of the Mellon Foundation, Bowen deployed the considerable resources of the Mellon Foundation to address this topic. The prior book, The Game of Life, was controversial because of conclusions that athletics have had a distorting effect on admissions and academic life at institutions thought to be free of the gross distortions seen at American Universities with scholarship driven athletic programs. After studying prestigious and very selective schools like the Ivy League universities and smaller schools like Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan, Bowen and his co-author concluded that athletes enjoyed substantial and unmerited advantages in admissions, tended to relatively underperform academically, and actually had a negative effect on campus life. There conclusions were assailed, sometimes with some force, on the basis of limited data samples and reliance on anecdotal information.
In the present book, Bowen returns with a considerably expanded dataset and a number of new analyses. The effect is to overwhelmingly confirm the prior conclusions. While one could probably find defects in some of the individual analyses, Bowen and Levin have done so many evaluations reaching the same conclusions that it is inescapable to conclude that they are correct. For example, they analyze data from 3 groups of schools with differing admissions policies towards recruited athletes and find a strong correlation between the relative advantage enjoyed by recruited athletes and academic underperformance. This kind of dose-effect relationship is very strong data.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Hall on February 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors have collected an enormous amount of data and presented it lucidly and tellingly. That alone is worth the price of the book. However one feels about elite institutions using different admission standards for recruited athletes,the authors should be given credit for illuminating the facts.

Most of the criticism I have seen has been of the "Kill the Messenger" variety, from people who clearly have "an axe to grind." To those whose minds are not already made up, I suggest reading the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Strona on September 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does a real service by pointing out how the most academically selective colleges, even though not offering athletic scholarships, still give admission preference to applicants identified as athletes. Especially in schools with very small annual intake this displaces other students with equal or better academic qualifications that are exceptionally talented in non athletic skills such as music, dance, poetry, etc.
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