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The Most Expensive Game in Town: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today's Families Hardcover – March 20, 2012


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The Most Expensive Game in Town: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today's Families + Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids + Whose Game Is It, Anyway?: A Guide to Helping Your Child Get the Most from Sports, Organized by Age and Stage
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001363
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hyman -- a recovering sports dad himself -- adopts a refreshingly nonjudgmental attitude toward the parents who started out pacing the sidelines and ended up walking off the deep end."
-Gordon Marino, New York Times Book Review



"It is widely noted that youth sports have their problems, from the obsession with results to premature specialization. However, economics are at the heart of these problems, and what often gets left unsaid is clearly outlined in Mark Hyman's new book."
-Doug Glanville, Time.com


"[Hyman] presents the numbers to prove that most folks who feel that clinics for eight-year-olds and private coaches for children too young to brush their own teeth are more likely to lead to burnout than to brilliant careers."
-Bill Littlefield, National Public Radio's "Only A Game."


"This book, for me, is a Rosetta stone for understanding why youth sports have become so unbearable for so many."
-Dave Zirin, The Nation


“Hyman—a recovering sports dad himself—adopts a refreshingly nonjudgmental attitude toward the parents who started out pacing the sidelines and ended up walking off the deep end. . . . With a mix of facts and anecdotes, Hyman pivots to explore the supply side of the equation.”
—Gordon Marino, New York Times Book Review
 
“It is widely noted that youth sports have their problems, from the obsession with results to premature specialization. However, economics are at the heart of these problems, and what often gets left unsaid is clearly outlined in Mark Hyman’s new book The Most Expensive Game in Town.”
—Doug Glanville, Time.com
 
“An eye-opening look at yet another way that profit-driven adults are robbing kids of fun. Mark Hyman’s compelling exploration of the business of youth sports today is an important read for anyone who cares about children—or how the game is played.”
—Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids and The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World
 
“[Hyman] presents the numbers to prove that most folks who feel that clinics for eight year olds and private coaches for children too young to brush their own teeth are more likely to lead to burnout than to brilliant careers.”
—Bill Littlefield, National Public Radio’s “Only a Game.”

 


From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mark Hyman (@sportsparents) is the author of Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids and co-author with Dr. Robert Cantu of Concussions and Our Kids: America's Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe. He teaches in the sports management program at George Washington University.

More About the Author

I'm a longtime sports journalist and author. My recent writing examines the problematic state of youth sports and opens a much-needed discussion among parents, coaches, athletic trainers, recreation professionals and others. My books include:

Concussions and Our Kids: America's Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe (2012), a collaboration with Robert Cantu, MD

The Most Expensive Game in Town: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today's Families (2012)

Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids (2009).

My reporting and commentaries also have been published in national media. My articles have appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Time.com. I've been a guest on "Fox and Friends," "Marketplace Money," "Only a Game," the "Dennis Prager Show" and National Public Radio. I also do public speaking and welcome your inquiries.

Since 2013, I have been teaching assistant professor of management at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I teach in GW's nationally recognized sport management program and lead courses in sports law and sports media.

I'm a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland School of Law. My current sports passion is running and I've reached 19 states in my quest to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

Customer Reviews

Some don't even have fun playing because sports have become a chore.
Sarah F. Montz
And third, a few folks in the book are criticized for their actions in 2009-2010, and the author makes a point of saying they haven't cleaned up their act.
Avid Reader
The book, however, didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know.
HoosierDad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By HoosierDad on June 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book and had great expectations for it after listening to an interview with the author. Furthermore, I agree with the author that the cost of youth sports - just to participate - is out of hand.

The book, however, didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know. If you have a child that participates in youth sports, nothing in this book will surprise you. Sure I learned about some new websites and services that prey on parents in the elusive quest for the college scholarship and there are plenry of stories about the extent that youth teams travel, but similar stories could have been accumulated at any youth soccer, hockey or basketball game. The extent that ESPN now covers high school sports will come as a shock only to those readers that don't generally watch sports on TV.

I guess that the audience for the book though - people out of touch with the reality of youth sports. If you're in it - even a little bit - you know exactly what he's talking about. There's nothing new here. And no solutions about how to put the genie back in the bottle.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Jennifer on June 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Mark Hyman's The Most Expensive Game in Town and recommend it to parents, educators and anyone who's thinking about sponsoring a little league team in their town.

While it's become very chic to poo-poo the notion of "keeping up with the Joneses," when it comes to our kids, we're failing miserably. We're so busy buying whatever we're told we must have, must do, must provide for our kids that we're ruining some of the great things about being a kid.

This is not a book about the everyone-gets-a-trophy school of kid sports, but rather the beginning of an accounting of the many, many companies and so-called professionals that have their hands in our kids' lives and our collective pockets.

Deep down, we know that most of our kids are not the next Ken Griffey Jr. but there's always that little gleam of hope that if they just had the right equipment, the right coach, the right experiences... they might exceed our expectations.

They won't.

But there are plenty of snake-oil salesmen who will take plenty of your money to encourage you to hold on to that hope and spend, spend, spend.

While this book doesn't have a lot of answers, it does make you think about the questions: how did we let this happen? Why do we keep doing it? How are we reshaping our kids' worlds and expectations?

For all those questions, and more, this book is a worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
There's nothing wrong with this book, but there's nothing especially excellent about it, either. As another reviewer or two have noted, the main points in this book have been covered extensively by many other media outlets for many years. I'm not sure why a publisher would want to pay Mark Hyman to duplicate excellent magazine and newspaper work by him and many others, except that it's a hot topic.

Hyman visits interesting places and does some first-hand reporting on some of the egregious businesses that have arisen in the sports-industrial complex, such as the communities that host youth sports tournaments or the hucksters who claim that their videos will get kids college athletic scholarships. Reading about that stuff just makes me glad that my teenage son is content to play community-level sports once a week, and that I can be an occasional substitute coach.

The book suffers from a few things that probably reflect a rush job. First, the preface states (I'm paraphrasing) that the book will follow the travails of three disparate families who have kids in competitive sports. But the author references them only in one chapter, and the three families are hardly representative of anything, given that almost all of the parents are journalists and artists. Second, there's a chapter about corruption in urban sports leagues that are trying to groom the next NBA star, but I'm not sure what that has to do with sports in upper-middle-class suburbia, which is the focus of the rest of the book. And third, a few folks in the book are criticized for their actions in 2009-2010, and the author makes a point of saying they haven't cleaned up their act. But he wrote the book in 2011, so it's not like they had a lot of time to adjust.

In short, if you're new to the topic, this book is a good introduction. If you're already entangled in youth sports, this book is a reminder to keep your perspective and to watch your wallet.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Emily Glickman VINE VOICE on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a private schools consultant and a parent with kids playing sports, I found Hyman's book insightful and well-written. Hyman accurately captures the extent of parental anxiety, how sports are often about the parents instead of the kids, and how fun can be subverted by commercial interests and parental ambition. This book gives parents valuable information so they can make better-informed decisions about how they spend family time and money. Hyman writes as someone who clearly seems to have kids' best interests in mind.
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