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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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"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."
"[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."
"This book, for me, is a Rosetta stone for understanding why youth sports have become so unbearable for so many."
“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Summary - Your kid will probably never play professional ball no matter what you do to help them. People spend outlandish amounts of money so that their children will have every... Read morePublished on June 10, 2014 by Sarah F. Montz
I hated this book. It is very opinionated, and the book is difficult to read if you disagree with those opinions (picture listening to a radio talk show with which you disagree on... Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by Bears