More Than Just a Game: Sports in American Life Since 1945

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Columbia University Press, Mar 1, 2006 - Sports & Recreation - 287 pages
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Every aspect of the sporting world has exploded in the years since 1945. Player salaries, the cost of fielding a team, the hype surrounding games, the number of cameras on the sidelines, the corporate sponsorships, the level of drug use, the number of women and African Americans participating, the global reach of games: all of these have contributed to a shift in the way Americans perceive the meaning of sports. More Than Just a Game traces these complex developments over the past sixty years. This book examines major sports, both professional and intercollegiate, from baseball, football, and basketball to golf, tennis, stock car racing, and extreme sports. It also covers the politics and social ramifications of the Olympic games and the growing appetite for recreational sports. How did the National Basketball Association go from a podunk regional league to an international powerhouse? How does Lance Armstrong's career illustrate some of the major trends in sports in the last twenty years? Why did the 1973 tennis "Battle of the Sexes" between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs matter? In answering these questions, Kathryn Jay shows how sports have helped shape racial, gender, national, and class identities. She also shows how athletes have been packaged as consumer products to be bought and sold. Nevertheless, transcendent moments occur regularly, and this book is replete with them. More Than Just a Game argues that the need to win has created a fascinating duality. On the one hand, Americans celebrate athletes as national heroes and believe sports encourage good citizenship and morality. On the other hand, the problems created by such a powerful emphasis on winning-cheating scandals, drug use, violent behavior, and an emphasis on financial gain-have been bemoaned as representing the decline of the nation itself. In the United States, sports have rarely been just fun and games.

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More than just a game: sports in American life since 1945

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Most current books on American sports history cover early America up to the present. Jay (director, American studies, Barnard Coll.) instead focuses on the postwar era, which allows her to treat in ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Kathryn Jay was most recently an assistant professor of history and director of American studies at Barnard College.

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