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LOVING SPORTS WHEN THEY DON'T LOVE YOU BACK

DILEMMAS OF THE MODERN FAN

An incisive, damning indictment of the world’s most popular pastimes.

Revealing some of the ugliest truths about professional sports.

Luther and Davidson are both well known in the world of sports journalism, and their investigative skills serve them well in this acute survey of their chosen field. (This is also a natural follow-up to Luther’s previous book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape.) Written as something of a guide to ethical conflicts that so often erupt in this massive, lucrative business, the overarching theme here is cognitive dissonance. With guidance from psychologists and other experts, the authors dig into the mindsets of fans and their love of the game and players and the manners in which they experience them. They also examine what happens when players and owners behave in problematic, occasionally inexcusable ways. There are some obvious targets: The authors first tackle the issue of doping, famously represented by Lance Armstrong, as well as the inherent issues around brain trauma in the NFL and the persistent problem of defending players credibly accused of domestic violence or sexual assault. But the depth and breadth of the book are impressive, as the authors discuss less-reported issues like inequality in the world of women’s sports or the struggles of players who identify with the LGBTQ community. Because the authors are journalists and not commentators, they also delve much deeper into the inner workings of the sports industry, covering in detail such topics as malevolent team owners, exemplified by former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banished by the league for his racist comments; the odd mechanics of professional baseball’s free market; and the economic inequities surrounding college basketball’s March Madness. With illuminating interviews and commentary by insiders from the sports community, an appealing pace, and elegant writing, this is a sports book that should interest not just sports fans, but anyone interested in politics, business, or society at large.

An incisive, damning indictment of the world’s most popular pastimes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1313-8

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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