An uncompromising look at America’s college-sports conundrum, offering a controversial solution that just might work.

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MISEDUCATION OF THE STUDENT ATHLETE

HOW TO FIX COLLEGE SPORTS

Two higher education experts analyze college sports and offer recommendations for reform.

Several scandals have revealed the fault lines in big-time college sports, including those involving former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush, former University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, University of Michigan basketball, and University of North Carolina athletics. When grades take a back seat to the playing field, the term “student athlete” can appear to be contradictory. Shropshire (Global Sport/Arizona State; Sport Matters, 2015, etc.) and debut author Williams seek to change this perception, arguing that, while athletics pay off for a select few, education benefits almost everyone. As the national conversation turns to the possibility of compensating student athletes, the authors urge a different priority: providing said athletes with a meaningful education. From this thesis, they discuss how amateur sports have become compromised by an infusion of cash from media-rights deals, creating tension between athletic and academic priorities. They explain why previous reformation attempts failed and lay out their own recommendations. Their novel approach, the “Meaningful Degree Model,” would separate “revenue” sports (such as football, baseball, and men’s basketball) from “nonrevenue” ones. Athletes in the former would receive “lifetime scholarships” that would give them the flexibility to get their degrees as traditional full-time students or to defer it. These scholarships would be available indefinitely. It may sound like a fantasy, but Shropshire and Williams keep it grounded, showing its value to schools as well as to student athletes. As academics, the authors are used to marshaling evidence to support their assertions, and the research they lay out here is impressive. It’s clear that they’re no fans of the present system, yet their discussion is refreshingly free of displays of cynicism and outrage. Although their prose style could be snappier (“Perhaps the Ivy model’s most salient feature is the embodiment of the student-athlete ideal”), they offer substance over hype in this work.

An uncompromising look at America’s college-sports conundrum, offering a controversial solution that just might work.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61363-082-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Wharton Digital Press

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2018

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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