Can you curl up with a book that lists seven ways ""spectator sports differ from other forms of entertainment""? The answer,...


SPORTS ILLUSION, SPORTS REALITY: A Reporter's View of Sports, Journalism, and Society

Can you curl up with a book that lists seven ways ""spectator sports differ from other forms of entertainment""? The answer, remarkably, is yes. Or maybe it's not so remarkable: the foremost of the seven distinguishing traits is coherence--""Sprots fans love to make lists, memorize statistics, collect trivia, follow schedules, arrange lineups, keep score."" Long-time New York Times sportswriter and Sporting News columnist Koppett developed this schematic analysis from a course he taught at Stanford--an instance of form following function. Not that Koppett ignores the imponderables of human behavior: he recounts (with Buster-Keaton deadpan) the story of teenage Rockford, Ill., pitcher Albert Spalding, his upset win over the stellar Washington Nationals, and the founding of the ""National League of Professional Baseball Clubs""--which gave fans ""the simplest possible automatic daily focus of interest: the won-lost standings as the teams progress toward a 'pennant.'"" After Part I has scrutinized the sports business, Part II focuses on sports journalism--the conduit between producer/promoter and consumer/fan. This is the book's most distinctive section. Other sportswriters have told how they plied their trade; Koppett lists seven ways he fills in what he's seen, discusses the obligations entailed, describes the mechanics of the various media, exposes the personal relationships, and winds up with a little essay on ethics. Section II, the Cultural Interaction, takes up in turn every one of the current issues--from amateurism to racism, to the question of consumer sports influences--good (six) and bad (six). Koppett sees the six assets outweighing the six drawbacks, ""not by a lot but by a discernible margin."" All told: a skeleton key to today's sports scene.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1981