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Varsity Green: A Behind the Scenes Look at Culture and Corruption in College Athletics Hardcover – December 3, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to veteran sports-business journalist Yost, there never was a "golden era" of college sports, when gentlemen scholars learned sportsmanship and teamwork; rather, sports have always been a means for colleges to earn money, power, and esteem, too often resulting in illiterate college athletes and corrupt athletic programs. The difference today is the scale: the Rose Bowl, though no longer the highest earning bowl game, generates more than $570 million for the Southern California economy; Nike pays millions in multiyear contracts with universities including Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois; and of the kids who devote their life to a particular sport, less than two percent will have a meaningful professional career. Yost reveals college sports as little more than a "machine that churns out kids for America's elite basketball, football, and hockey leagues," sacrificing young people's futures for big money and bragging rights. At times, Yost seems unsure whether to play the worldly reporter or the wide-eyed innocent, but his report is mostly thorough and largely well-written; conspicuously left out, however, are. the voices of the athletes themselves. Still, this intelligent critique of the U.S. college athletics makes a captivating examination of America's infatuation with money, celebrity, and sports.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"According to veteran sports-business journalist Yost, there never was a 'golden era' of college sports, when gentlemen scholars learned sportsmanship and teamwork; rather, sports have always been a means for colleges to earn money, power, and esteem, too often resulting in illiterate college athletes and corrupt athletic programs. ...(T)his intelligent critique of the U.S. college athletics makes a captivating examination of America's infatuation with money, celebrity, and sports."—Publishers Weekly


"This provocative look at college athletics by sports and business journalist Yost is sure to start some conversations. In no uncertain terms, Yost accuses the NCAA of being morally bankrupt and exploiting poor, inner-city youth as chattel that feeds a protection racket lining the pockets of the rich and powerful. ...Yost's book focuses primarily on football but will appeal widely to anyone with an interest in high school or college athletics. Though clearly opinionated, it is an excellent primer on the business of college sports."—Library Journal


"The most informed, most dogged analyst of the finances of sports is clearly Mark Yost. Are the hand-wringing, issue-concerned administrators of college sports ready for him? He's ready for them." —Bob Boyles, co-author, The USA TODAY College Football Encyclopedia


"In Varsity Green, Mark Yost joins the voices outside the stadium or fieldhouse who decry the hypocrisy and corruption in college athletics, and in weaving together the many aspects and actors he demonstrates that the madness is not just confined to March."—Allen R. Sanderson, University of Chicago


"Mark Yost lays bare the sordid details of the corrupting influence big money has on college athletics and academic integrity at many of our institutions of higher learning. The writing is entertaining, the facts disturbing."—Dennis Coates, Department of Economics, UMBC
"Mark Yost tells a readable story that presents recent research on college athletics in a very stimulating manner. The title of the opening chapter on the student athlete says it all: 'The Entertainment Product.'"—Phil Miller, Minnesota State University, Mankato
"Mark Yost ranks among the elite of 'sport and business of sport' writers. Honest and fearless, Varsity Green will excite both the hard core fan, as well as the casual NCAA observer. A Great read!" —Roy Green, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Canada
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Economics and Finance (December 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804769699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804769693
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We're all accustomed to hearing too many stories about badly behaving college athletes, many of whom might flunk a basic literacy test, and lavish college sports facilities. Even as many of us roll our eyes at these shenanigans and examples of misplaced priorities, we still tune in religiously to follow our favorite college teams -- a paradox that is at the heart of this intriguing book about the business of college sports.

I can easily see that nobody engaged in this world will be happy with what Mark Yost finds after he turns his keen eye on it. Those boosters who claim that the current system is a win-win, giving colleges great teams and youngsters a chance at an education, will be infuriated by Yost's damning indictment of an educational system that encourages young people to believe that they have a real shot at going pro via a college team (in fact, in a too-often repeated statistic, he notes that 3% of high school athletes will get a college scholarship; only 2% of those will have any kind of pro career) and then after coddling them and sheltering them from reality, abandons them to sink or swim when they tear a ligament and can't generate any revenue for the institution. On the other hand, those on the academic side will likely not enjoy Yost's even-handed analysis: he points out that a lot of the revenue from successful and profitable athletic teams actually helps subsidize academic programs and that so far, there is little proof that athletic donations are cannibalizing those to academic chairs and other programs.

This is an intriguing look behind the scenes at some of the top coaches, the top donors, the administrators and the boosters.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has a love for college sports, this book is a must read. It confirms what we fans have suspected for years, that college football, basketball, and a few other sports (hockey, baseball) have been tainted by professionalism. In fact, it is really hard to call the players in these big revenue-producing sports "amateurs" and to think of them as "students."

I would have given the book 5 stars but for a few problems. On the positive side, Yost's writing style is engaging and well-paced. And the insight that he provides gives one the feel of being an insider in the business of college sports. Still, there are a few problems with the book. First, he relies quite a bit on other books, leaving me wishing that he had gotten more direct quotes from people in college athletics and related businesses. Perhaps they were reluctant to talk to him. Second, at times he repeats himself. The worst case of this is in the Epilogue, where he repeats a lot of material, for example, the discussion of the critic Nathan Tublitz and APR and GSR rates.

But my complaints aside, I found this book to be an easy, engaging read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in college athletics, higher education, and the uneasy relationship between the two.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I needed to read this book for a sociology of sport class I am taking in college. We had to choose a book that was about both sports and business and this book has it all. The book explains many details about the NCAA from when it started to where it is when the book was written. It goes through a number of areas such as the BCS and the March Madness tournament (there are many more topics than these) where it describes such things as TV contracts, school payouts, and many other areas that many people don't know about. This book explains stereotypes that almost everyone believes to be true and the book proves them wrong. Overall, I think this is a great buy. If you are on the edge whether you should purchase it or not, buy it. You will not be let down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book was informative and is a good read for anyone who does not like what is going on in the NCAA. There was very little suggestion to what can be done with the problems that exist, other than change the leadership, but that has been the thoughts of many people for a long time. Must make the rule book smaller!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
good description of high level college athletics. i supected it was like this and this confirms my suspicion somewhat repetitive Varsity Green
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