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Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth Hardcover – January 11, 2000
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From Library Journal
-John M. Maxymuk, Robeson Lib., Rutgers Univ., Camden, NJ
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"For all its clever advertising campaigns, the real story of the sneaker industry is one of influence peddling and the unholy, unscrupulous recruitment of children. This is that story, in excruciating detail." -- Phil Mushnick, New York Post and TV Guide
"For those who care about the game, SOLE INFLUENCE sends a most disturbing message. Read it and weep. But read it. The nasty Vaccaro-Raveling rivalry and the story of Nike pitchman Myron Piggie are alone worth the price of admission to college basketball's house of horrors." (Armen Keteyian, CBS and HBO Sports) REVIEW "We always knew something stunk about basketball and the sneaker business, and SOLE INFLUENCE lets us know where the stench is coming from.... A most revealing and insightful book." -- Jackie MacMullan, Sports Illustrated
Details a war waged by two multinational sneaker companies and profiles the two men who serve as field marshals for each side....A sobering read for anyone who cares about the future of basketball. -- Alexander Wolff, Sports Illustrated
For all its clever advertising campaigns, the real story of the sneaker industry is one of influence peddling and the unholy, unscrupulous recruitment of children. This is that story, in excruciating detail. -- Phil Mushnick, New York Post and TV Guide
For those who care about the game, SOLE INFLUENCE sends a most disturbing message. Read it and weep. But read it. The nasty Vaccaro-Raveling rivalry and the story of Nike pitchman Myron Piggie are alone worth the price of admission to college basketball's house of horrors. -- Armen Keteyian, CBS and HBO Sports
We always knew something stunk about basketball and the sneaker business, and SOLE INFLUENCE lets us know where the stench is coming from....A most revealing and insightful book. -- Jackie MacMullan, Sports Illustrated
Top Customer Reviews
To even the casual observer of college basketball, at the upper echelon of Division I, there is (has been) an uneven playing field. It's as if some colleges have had the top five picks in the annual draft for several years in a row.
On the surface the uneven playing field seems impossible to explain, but books like "Sole Influence" begin to shed light of the corruption that mars college basketball -- the search for the next Michael Jordan.
In a series of anecdotes, the authors provide case studies of how, especially, Nike and Addidas have made a mess of AAU basketball, especially in large urban centers.
It's difficult, almost impossible, to get first hand information, especially from big-name college coaches -- few go on the record. What "Sole Influence" reveals, seems to me, is the tip of the iceberg.
The most shocking revelations surround the role played by George Raveling, the former head coach at Washington State, Iowa and USC. Thankfully, Raveling made himself available to the authors and provides candid comments which, while attempting to rationalize his role in this sorry mess, tend to indict him as one of the prime offenders.
The book, although poorly edited, contains much food for thought and is worthy of reading and reflection by serious college basketball fans.
The authors include a good index, but omit footnotes and a bibliography of sources. Also, a complete list of names of persons interviewed for the book would have been appreciated. To the layman, many of these "characters" are complete strangers.Read more ›
Worth nothing, however, is that nearly all of the information gathered is of the second hand variety - especially when it comes to AAU coaches, Nike, prep academy representative, and/or players who benefited from the system Wetzel and Yaeger denounce. Thus, while Wetzel and Yaeger valiantly attempt to provide a semblance of objectivity, the 'other side' appears via second hand quotes weaved in to fit story lines.
To elaborate, the authors' disdain for Nike becomes incredulous at times, especially in contrast to their free passes for both Adidas and Reebok. It appears those willing to continuously go on the record (Sonny Vaccarro, for instance) - and arguably fairly enough - were given love taps.
Also, the attempts at objective balance go out the door once Wetzel and Yaeger find their respective soapboxes. This book feels stretched for 50+ pages, solely (pun intended, I suppose) to feature diatribes against the corruption of the basketball recruitment process as a whole.
For example, Michael Jordan's career evolution is cited as a litmus test for how players should act and be recruited. Still, Jordan's early days in NC lacked the broadcasting revenue, Internet engine and global market that is today's reality. Not to mention the financials of publicly traded companies (eg Nike) almost solely based on athlete endorsements to launch new product lines.
Flaws aside, 'Sole Influence' remains a goldmine in its detailed explanation of the inner workings of hoops development. I wouldn't call it a must-read, per se, rather a nice historical snapshot (1995-2000) of the underbelly of basketball breeding.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although dated, this book is as relevant now as ever before. Fascinating.Published 22 months ago by Imhotep Coleman
This book is a must read for any parent who has any interaction with the recruiting scene. Gives you an inside of what to look for of what is really going onPublished on March 25, 2013 by drp
If you are a basketball junkie - this is a must read. Fact based with names, names, names. It seems when it comes to finding the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant there are no... Read morePublished on January 14, 2012 by Bama Biker
this product was sent in very good condition and was also sent in a timely manner but amazon makes it so inconvenient to leave reviews when you MUST elaborate on your review it... Read morePublished on November 30, 2009 by Ron Breaux
Very interesting read. I would recommend this if you want a fun read, but it's inaccuracy loses its' legitimacy as a fundamental book on the recruiting season. Read morePublished on October 7, 2009 by M. Gibson
Hi my name is quin and I live in Missouri. I dont like what they say about myron piggie. he is a good man. otherwise the book was pretty good. Read morePublished on November 12, 2003
However not always balanced, SOLE is a page turner for sports fans that enjoy the stories off the playing arena. Read morePublished on April 26, 2003 by Amazon Customer
Buy this book. Love it.
A great look at how the big corporate money of the shoe industry has tainted high school level and college basketball, not to mention all of those who... Read more
Anyone who has been around amateur basketball can appreciate the intense look Sole Influence takes at the seedy side of shoe companies. Read morePublished on April 17, 2000