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The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values Paperback – April 28, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0691096193 ISBN-10: 0691096198

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691096198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096193
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shulman and Bowen (respectively, coauthor of and collaborator on The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions) examine the relationship between college athletics and later achievement among male and female student athletes at 30 colleges and universities in this well-researched, impressively broad and thorough study. The schools are all academically selective, but compete athletically at widely varying levels, ranging from division 1A powerhouses to small conferences of liberal arts and women's colleges. Using the same database they created for their previous book, Shulman and Bowen look at college athletes who enrolled in 1951 ("thought of by some as `the good old days' "), 1976 (after enrollment compositions changed because of the civil rights movement and increases in coeducation) and 1989 (the most recent year for which they could collect data tracing the students' college years through their early careers), identifying trends, noting changes and examining differences in the college and post-college experiences of male and female athletes. The authors identify a set of character traits common to most athletes no matter what sport they play, and present a great deal of data countering conventional myths about college sports. Additionally, Shulman and Bowen offer suggestions about how college athletics could be better run. The book presents a lot of interesting data that contradicts the conventional myths about college sports. (Athletes graduate at a higher rate than students at large; even at the big-time programs, college sports are likely to lose money for their schools.) Anyone connected to college athletics--from coaches and admissions officials to trustees--will find much of interest here. (Feb.)Forecast: Despite its textbook-like style and overwhelming detail, this volume is bound to reach large audiences, as it's been the subject of articles in the New Yorker and the New York Times, and featured on NPR.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Shulman is the financial and administrative officer of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and director of the foundation's College and Beyond research program. Bowen is president of the foundation and formerly president of Princeton University. Here they argue persuasively that intercollegiate athletic programs have become thoroughly institutionalized and that to combat this trend the links between athletics and the educational missions of American universities must be strengthened. Pointing to a dramatic shift in the way college sports are affecting the admission, education, and future lives of all students, the authors note that recruited athletes have a much greater admissions advantage than minority students and alumni children. The result is the formation of a separate athlete subculture in which the athletes socialize and share the same career goals while simultaneously developing the propensity for academic underperformance. Shulman and Bowen urge colleges and universities to find a way to integrate the positive aspects of athletics into their educational missions and to strengthen their role in shaping "the game of life" on college campuses. Recommended for academic libraries. Samuel T. Huang, Univ. of Arizona Lib., Tucson
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Gerry Rising on February 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Last week I delivered a letter to the president of the University at Buffalo faculty senate that began: "I write to recommend that the University at Buffalo withdraw from Division IA athletics. I base much of my argument for downgrading at least to the university's former Division III status on the recently published book THE GAME OF LIFE by James L. Shulman and William G. Bowen (Princeton University Press)...."
It is not often that a book can have as major an impact on a reader as this one has had on me -- and, I add, should have on everyone interested in education. It makes a compelling case that Division IA athletics is bad not only for a university's academic community but for the community at large as well. And it has led me to take this drastic action. I only hope that the university students, faculty and administration will have the wisdom to act favorably in response to this recommendation.
THE GAME OF LIFE is a myth destroyer. The authors bring to bear statistics gathered from 90,000 students at 30 colleges that are selective enough to have to turn away many well qualified applicants. "Every spring," the authors say, "valedictorians with straight A averages, and applicants with stellar SAT scores who may have conducted original laboratory research or made a full-length documentary film, are rejected because there are only so many spots in a class. Because there are so many outstanding candidates, a place in the entering class...is a scarce resource.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The findings in this book are very important. The authors prove that Ivy League and other prestigious schools admit athletes with significantly lower SAT scores than regular students need for admission. They also prove that an "athletic culture" is taking over these schools just as it did big-time college sports schools (see the recent well-written book, Beer & Circus). Then, in their most valuable finding, they prove that women athletes are not really helped by spending so much time in sports and away from serious studies, and that athletes do not become better leaders than regular grads of schools (the book looks at many grads from the 1950s and 1970s).
All that is good stuff but the authors make it very hard to find that out. They write in a tepid prose, full of passive constructions and qualifications, that makes reading the book very slow going. Often it is like reading against a full-court press. Although Frank DeFord endorses the book, the authors should have read a lot of his work before starting on theirs. BTW, author William Bowen is the head of the Mellon Foundation and author James Shulman is a financial officer with the foundation--no wonder they write bureaucratic prose!
The ideas in the book are very important but many readers will be put off by the prose.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was enlightened and educated by this book. My starting opinion was directly opposed to college athletics as they are at many major universities. However, through this research, I've come to see the differences between "big-time" sports such as basketball and football, and most other college sports. This agreed with my college recollections where I knew many athletes in "smaller" sports who worked hard as schoolwork and their sport. They played their sport for the love of the game and the camaraderie, but most knew that their careers ended at graduation. I continue to admire them and wonder why some many universities continue to hurt those sports to maintain the larger sports.
College football and basketball, in particular, are fully-subsidized minor leagues for the NFL and NBA. If the NCAA drastically changes the way it does business, those leagues will have to find another way to test and screen athletes. This won't hurt the schools at all; in fact, the schools will benefit. Good student/athletes will still get a college education (as many baseball players do today), and pure athletes will still have a chance to compete and become professionals.
This book substantially helped shape my opinions on college sports in a well-researched and documented manner.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants a balanced yet critical look into college athletics. jgalt5@yahoo.com
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Igoe on June 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
For all the harping made of affirmative action, little is made of the three-fold greater leg-up given to athletes. At every turn, athletes are lesser academically and intellectually, require more resources, and provide little in alumni funds. Although jocks benefit greatly from college, they are an incredible waste of a precious resource.

It is a book based on facts by a person in the know.
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By M. Brousseau on March 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had to buy this for grad school and decided on purchasing a used version. Arrived in excellent condition, cover, binding, pages and all.
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