EMBRACING VICTORY by Mariah Burton Nelson


Life Lessons in Competition and Compassion
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 A former professional basketball player who loves to compete struggles to persuade women how rewarding competition can be when done in the right way. In 1995, Nelson (Are We Winning Yet?, 1991; The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football, 1994) conducted a survey among some 1,000 athletic and nonathletic female students in middle school through college to discover their experience of and attitudes about competition. The results are presented here along with numerous anecdotes from her own life and quotes from feminists, psychologists, and other athletes. She argues that women, like men, need to compete in order to thrive in our society. However, the form of competition she envisions differs from the aggressive male, or ``Conqueror,'' model that focuses totally on winning, and also from the traditional female, or ``Cheerleader,'' model, in which women compete on the sidelines and only with other women over looks, boyfriends, or popularity. Instead, Nelson urges women to embrace what she terms the ``Champion'' model, which is marked by compassion and integrity. She elaborates on this concept, spelling out how she sees competition as a relationship, a process, an opportunity, a riskand a feminist issue. She looks at how the messages women receive from their families, their communities, and their culture influence their feelings about competition and how sports shape the attitudes of those women who participate in them. When she recounts the reactions of men feeling threatened by a competitive woman, it is clearly the voice of experience speaking. But Nelson's anecdotal style, which may serve her well as a lecturer, results here in repetition and a lack of focus, and her later chapters on choosing when not to compete and deciding what rules to play by seem like rough drafts of ideas that haven't quite jelled. Starts out strong, but wavers to a weak finish. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 8th, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-14649-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1998