5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Is It Good to Be King?
, August 19, 2013
This review is from: The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America (Hardcover)
Football. It's America's game. Whether it's a Saturday filled with college football, a Sunday afternoon watching NFL games, or gathering around the TV on a Monday night, football is a game firmly entrenched within the core of American culture. Millions of Americans participate in fantasy football leagues every season and subscribe to NFL RedZone in order not to miss a game. Why does football consume this country?
In his book "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America," author Gregg Easterbrook attempts to answer this question, along with examining the positive and negative effects of the sport. He delves into the world of college football (including an in-depth review of how Virginia Tech conducts its program and coach Frank Beamer, who is a rarity in terms of college football coaches with regards to his coaching styles, values, and perspectives) and how players are exploited, along with how money is spent/distributed throughout the university. He takes an in-depth look at the NFL and how its costs are spread to taxpayers, as the league itself is deemed "not for profit." The impact of concussions on players at both the collegiate and professional level is examined, along with other fallouts of the sport (drug abuse, weight gain, violence). Easterbrook wraps up with an analysis of what football tells us about America and present-day society. Finally, there is a reference section of books, articles, and studies referred to within the text, along with additional publications that can further one's knowledge more on the subject of football.
Easterbrook does a nice job of supporting his claims and arguments. He has amassed an impressive amount of statistics concerning the costs of television rights, how much taxpayers have spent with regards to building NFL stadiums, and the graduation rates of college football players (some of which are downright deplorable). The information Easterbrook presents about concussions and the manner in which they are minimized/brushed off by society, especially NFL commentators, is compelling and disturbing, as well. Easterbrook does presents solutions to the problems within football, such as including a collegiate athlete's GPA and the team's graduation rate into ranking polls (to encourage the importance of education), making penalties follow collegiate coaches from school to school, and ways to reduce concussions (through difference stances and helmets). There were several sections of the book that had me shaking my head in disbelief or agreement.
In contrast, I had a difficult time getting through this book at various points. The writing style was rather uninspiring and bland at times. Easterbrook presents so many statistics and dollar figures at various points (especially Chapters Three and Four, which discuss both the NFL and collegiate football in regards to money, profit, and expenses) that it slowed down the pacing of the book. This is not a quick, easy read, but one that takes time to process the statistics, solutions, and even highlight to get a full understanding of the presented material. It's a book that I see being used more as a reference for a paper/speech or even in some sports and public policy courses in college. While the information itself is compelling, the way it is presented at times is not.
Overall, I did find this book interesting. I am more of a casual football fan and, while I do know some about the sport, there was information within this book that I was not aware of whatsoever. However, hard-core fans will already know this information and may find the book repetitious. In turn, it appears better suited for a casual or beginning football fan, or even a researcher interested in the role of football within American culture itself. While "The King of Sports" shines a light on both the positive and negatives of football, it doesn't quite score a touchdown.
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