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The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America Hardcover – September 24, 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

College and professional football generates billions of dollars annually in revenue. Easterbrook, the author of ESPN’s popular column Tuesday Morning Quarterback, looks beyond the dollar signs, examining many of the sport’s darker issues. Among them: the public dollars used to finance the stadiums used by NFL teams when, simultaneously, the same local governments reduce money allocated to education, public infrastructure, and aid to the needy. The book opens with a look at Virginia Tech football, where the graduation rates are high and players learn through the positive reinforcement of head coach Frank Beamer and his staff. Easterbrook then moves to the rest of college football, which mostly exploits the players for the enrichment of the university, the athletic administrators, and the coaching staffs. Another chapter looks at the long-term financial health of NFL players; one organization reports 70 percent of NFL players declare bankruptcy within 10 years of retirement. Despite the wealth of negative content here, Easterbrook still professes to enjoy the game and offers a series of reforms for football at all levels. A valuable analysis that will significantly alter the ways that readers view football. --Wes Lukowsky

Review

“The King of Sports is a fantastic book” ―Chuck Todd

“Read this book with a highlighter in hand. It is the most significant book you will ever read on football.” ―Brian Kenny, former anchor, SportsCenter

“I've long admired Gregg Easterbrook's writing. Now I admire his conscience. The King of Sports is an important book for football America.” ―Peter King, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

The King of Sports provides a vivid, authoritative, insightful and above all provocative account of the role of football in American life.” ―Michael Mandelbaum, author of The Meaning of Sports

The King of Sports is a must-read for all of us who love the game of football.” ―Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief, Football Outsiders.com

“[Easterbrook] delivers hits more devastating than the most ferocious, head-hunting linebacker…. [he] does it again, again and again in The King of Sports, a startling and disturbing new book that takes aim at hypocrisy in the National Football League and big money college football.” ―Buffalo News

“Provocative and thoughtful.” ―Tampa Bay Times

“College and professional football generates billions of dollars annually in revenue. Easterbrook, the author of ESPN's popular column Tuesday Morning Quarterback, looks beyond the dollar signs, examining many of the sport's darker issues… A valuable analysis that will significantly alter the ways that readers view football.” ―Booklist

“Easterbrook presents muchto consider and discuss in his diagnosis and treatment plan, which should be of interest to a broad audience.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“No matter how you feel about football's issues, The King of Sports offers plenty to think about. It's a blitz of sports and cultural perspective well worth any fan's time.” ―Creative Loafing Charlotte

“One of the Web's surprise cult hits.” ―The New York Times on Tuesday Morning Quarterback

“Hilarious entertainment . . . Tuesday Morning Quarterback has pretty much locked up the genre of humorous football poetry.” ―National Public Radio, "All Things Considered"

“Trenchant analysis, wrenching case studies, Utopian recommendations.” ―Kirkus Reviews on Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 125001171X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250011718
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The King of Sports, Football's Impact on America is an attempt to point out the massive amounts of corruption and hypocrisy that daily receive a pass, because of America's obsession with football, at all levels of the game. This work investigates and describes, in heavy detail, the health and safety, financial malfeasance and corruption of mission that are undergone at the high school, college and professional level by America's favorite sport. The reader is frankly, overwhelmed with the data and description, in at times rambling and example heavy book.

The author, Gregg Easterbrook, who has written for years for publications like The Atlantic and ESPN.com is certainly a fan of the game, and loves how athletics, properly used, are tools for character development, self discipline, exposing especially the young to a wider world, and for being one of the few outlets commonly accepted today that brings a real sense of civic cohesion. He has been a youth coach and active participate in the college recruiting process as well. So he does have not only the observational skills of a journalist, but the ability to understand how the game works on the inside.

I am largely sympathetic with Easterbrook's main points: football has become an unhealthy obsession in the nation, and we are taking massive risks with health and safety of youth, twisting educational opportunities into corrupt incentives for school pride and aggrandizement and abusing civic pride in professional sports into an excuse to pump an increasingly corrupt organization like the NFL. His most convicting comments, again largely in agreement with his main points, are from Super Bowl winning coach, Tong Dungy and a Virginia Tech player.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Gregg Easterbrook wants to know why there is such a deep relationship between the American public and football, from high school, to college (with three times' greater attendance than pro football) and NFL. We become warriors for our teams on game day and we dissect the game throughout the rest of the week. He comes up with several reasons. We are aggressive like football; football is a recluse, a man's club, in a country where women are gaining more and more power in education in business. We are industrial and work for a boss the way the players work for their coach so we relate to the game on that analogous level. We are even so addicted to the sport that we subsidize football stadiums for owners who take all the money for themselves and politicians, the public do nothing. We allow the cozy relationship between the NFL and the TV companies to flourish while we pay for the tab in ways that are outrageous, even feudal, according to Easterbrook.

All the while we exploit our college athletes. Only about half graduate with a college degree. Only one in a hundred from college go to NFL. Five years after playing NFL, most players are broke. They don't get guaranteed contracts. Repetitive head injuries lead to brain damage, suicidal depression, ALS disease and a host of other disorders.

Additionally, college and NFL players, huge with inflated weight increases from a generation ago, influence the American youth to "bulk up," which leads to obesity. And then there are the pain killers and PEDs, which are sought out by our youth, many of whom are trying to be recruited as young as twelve years old.

This sick symbiotic relationship between a multi-billion-dollar industry and the viewing addicts is held under a microscope in writing that is accessible, fair-minded, well researched and moves along at a brisk pace in spite of all the valuable statistics Easterbrook relies on to support his points. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by a friend. I was intrigued at first then quickly got bored. So much of what the author points out about football could be said of most major businesses or industries - a few at the top get very rich and the vast majority toil for very little. Like the NFL and college football, businesses get of all kinds angle for tax breaks at the expense of the average tax payer.
The author shared some interesting insights and stats but then goes on and on with more so the punch of the original points are lost.
I also thought he made several leaps of faith. For example, he tried to make the point that more women are in college than men because things like football and video games distract from grades. That was a stretch.
After a while I felt like I was being preached too about kids, taxpayers and the public being taken advantage of. But let's never forget that playing and watching football are choices and nothing like banking or government scandals that have a much bigger impact on society.
I can't recommend you spending your time or money on this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you love College Football the way I do then you need to read this book to understand how the powers that are raking in the millions are killing this sport. I was very disappointed to read how athletes from College all the way down to the pee wees are being manipulated, abused and taken advantage of. When I played in the 80's this was not the case. There is nothing wrong with the game of College Football today, but there is something wrong with the men who are running it. Easterbrook does an excellent job of explaining, and verifying with numbers, the insidiousness of this sport that the tailgaters of America know and love and are completely ignorant of what is going on. Easterbrook also details out what can be done to fix the game without compromising the integrity and competitiveness. That's the sad part, the game does not have to be this way, and if fixed, the on field performances do not change. The only thing that changes is that the athletes will graduate and be able to become productive members of society. Oh and by the way, he peels back the onion on the NFL also. As an example it is interesting to know that the average career span for a player is 3.7 years and that to qualify for the pension plan you need to play for four years.

I love football. I played D1 Power 5 college football in the 80's and until I read this book I was not ashamed of my sport; I am now and hope that there is something that I can personnally do before it collapses on itself.

If you are a fan, you need to read this book. If you are not a fan, you need to read this book.
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