- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 3, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691116202
- ISBN-13: 978-0691116204
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values
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"Reclaiming the Game paints a disappointing picture of the negative influences of college athletics. . . . Bowen and Levin demonstrate repeatedly that recruited athletes get preferential treatment in admissions despite lower SAT scores, underperform academically throughout college, choose easier majors and graduate at a lower percentage. . .. [A]s the athletic-academic gap grows, the need for visionary leadership from college presidents becomes more pressing. Reclaiming the Game provides an
excellent blueprint to do exactly what its title suggests."--Mark Luce, Chicago Tribune
"A work of extensive research, impressive statistical analyses, and excellent writing."--John Savant, Commonweal
"In the comprehensiveness of its research and the solidity of its argument, Reclaiming the Game breaks new ground and probably will become the most influential book in the field for many years. . . . Unlike other proposals for the reform of college sports, Bowen and Levin's do not exist in a vacuum but have been tested in the real world. They actually work."--Murray Sperber, Academe
"Rooted in convincing data, this powerful, thought-provoking work will likely receive wide national attention and will have a substantial impact on campus discussion."--Library Journal
From the Inside Flap
"In Reclaiming the Game, Bill Bowen and Sarah Levin have given us a splendid sequel to The Game of Life. Their admirable analysis of the growing divide between academic values and intercollegiate athletics on our most selective college campuses is meticulous in its documentation, comprehensive in its scope, and troubling in its findings. Bowen and Levin make a compelling case for reform and provide a realistic agenda for achieving it."--Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Emeritus, Cornell University
"Reclaiming the Game is a powerful, thought-provoking book that examines the intersection of intercollegiate athletics with the mission of the institution. Bowen and Levin lay out the challenges facing today's intercollegiate programs and make observations and suggestions to maintain the integrity of athletics within the context of highly selective liberal arts institutions."--Amy Campbell, Director of Athletics and Physical Education, Bryn Mawr College
"Sports play a vibrant part in American college life. The emphasis on them has gotten out of kilter, however, even at the most selective liberal arts colleges. Reclaiming the Game describes a growing gap between intercollegiate athletics and basic academic values. The book is rooted in compelling data. It will be a catalyst for understanding the facts, thinking about how to do better, and actually taking remedial action."--W. Taylor Reveley III, Dean, William & Mary Law School
"Reclaiming the Game is the rare case of a sequel that is even better than a great original. Although some sports enthusiasts will wish this new book could be ignored, it will be hard to dismiss it. Of great practical importance, this book will receive wide national attention and have a substantial impact on campus discussions."--Michael S. McPherson, President, Macalaster College
"This will become a standard reference. It develops fuller and more recent data on the academic performance of varsity athletes than ever before. The book deals especially well with the impact of increasing competition, specialization, and professionalization on coaches."--Michael MacDonald, Williams College
Top customer reviews
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Most of the criticism I have seen has been of the "Kill the Messenger" variety, from people who clearly have "an axe to grind." To those whose minds are not already made up, I suggest reading the book.
People are entitled to write biased books; the problem here is that Bowen pretends he is not biased, and he obviously is(although more subtly than in his prior effort, Game of Life).
The data (which may represent a federal privacy violation by the colleges that revealed them) are manipulated into statistics to suit the biases and are fundamentally flawed. Data contrary to the biases is avoided or explained away, sometimes in the most Machiavellian manner. For a good rebuttal check out [website]
In the present book, Bowen returns with a considerably expanded dataset and a number of new analyses. The effect is to overwhelmingly confirm the prior conclusions. While one could probably find defects in some of the individual analyses, Bowen and Levin have done so many evaluations reaching the same conclusions that it is inescapable to conclude that they are correct. For example, they analyze data from 3 groups of schools with differing admissions policies towards recruited athletes and find a strong correlation between the relative advantage enjoyed by recruited athletes and academic underperformance. This kind of dose-effect relationship is very strong data. In addition, the conclusions drawn from their dataset are consonant with qualitative impressions and with the conclusions of independent studies done at individual schools in their dataset. Bowen and Levin have successfully overcome the challenges of their critics. A corollary point is that their critics have never offered any substantial data to back the implied claim that athletics produce unique benefits.
Bowen and Levin conclude with a series of recommendations for reform which are quite sensible. It has to be mentioned that one of the goals of their reform program is actually to broaden participation in college athletics. These suggestions should be pursued.
Bowen and Levin have a nice discussion of how this unfortunate state of affairs developed. The problems with athletics at these schools mirror and to some extent are driven by parallel changes in larger society. As these colleges have come to overvalue athletics, so has youth sports become semi-professionalized. This has created a typical vicious circle; parents, knowing that good colleges highly value athletics, drive their children down the road of early specialization in a sport and year round competition. In turn, the strong interest of these types of students in sports at a relatively high level is a partial driver of the overemphasis of college athletics. Bowen and Levin suggest that restoring balance to college sports would help to break this cycle. This may be correct and is certainly worth trying.
It is worth mentioning in this context that attempting to reverse the overemphasis on college and youth sports has implications beyond education. Bowen and Levin are particularly concerned with the effects of athletics on education, which is entirely proper. But, it is very likely that the semi-professionalization of youth sports is a contributing factor to the general decline in fitness occuring in younger Americans. By the end of elementary school, competitive sports increasingly become the province of a relatively select group of talented children. Coupled with the declining emphasis on physical education in schools and other relevant phenomena, the result is a large pool of increasingly inactive children. The long term consequences are likely to be a significant increase in cardiovascular disease and other significant medical problems.