A flawed look at America's 1996 Olympic-champion women's basketball team. In 1896, the man known as the ""father of the...

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VENUS TO THE HOOP: A Gold Medal Year in Women's Basketball

A flawed look at America's 1996 Olympic-champion women's basketball team. In 1896, the man known as the ""father of the modern Olympic games,"" Pierre de Coubertain, declared that the ""Olympics should be an exaltation of male athleticism"" with ""female applause as the reward."" A century later, the members of the US women's basketball team earned an Olympic gold medal, distinction as the US Olympic Committee's ""team of the year,"" and money from endorsements or from contracts with one of two new pro leagues. Sportswriter Corbett does a passable job of dramatizing how women's basketball, like its big-money men's counterpart, has become a pressure cooker due to the demands placed by sponsors on players and coaches to win and to legitimize the sport. Although the author had exclusive access to the team during the year leading up to the Atlanta games, she divulges little about the players that the glut of magazine articles, television programs, or even sporting-goods marketers' press releases haven't already revealed. Thus, wedged in among her perceptive discussions of elite-level international basketball, the intricate plans (and deceits) of sports marketers, or how the women manage to integrate their personal and professional lives, we also get numerous trifling profiles of courage (a common story: overcoming low self-esteem from being tall). Also, Corbett offers too little discussion of the physiological effects of high-level athletic performance on women (for instance, what to make of evidence suggesting that basketball exacts a harsher toll on women's knees). Perhaps the sheer fact that this book is being published, and that the story has been covered from so many angles, is proof that the time is ripe for women's professional team sports to be taken seriously.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0385493525

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997