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How Sports Reflect Society

by Nathan Aaseng

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8027-8217-5
Publisher: Walker

 Aaseng contends that the substance abuse, racism, violence, cheating, and sexism that have tarnished the image of professional and Olympic sports simply mirror blemishes of our culture as a whole. In his view, many athletes are driven to well-publicized excesses by market forces and fan expectations, while others are, or have been, held back by (generally) unadmitted, but tenacious, prejudice. He cites a host of examples: promising careers cut short; black and female athletes who bucked misconceptions; corrupt, ruthless college athletic programs; temptingly vast sums lavished by corporations and TV networks. Are things getting better? Aaseng notes that sports are becoming more governable, since rules are easier to enforce than laws, and that football, at least, is less deadly than it used to be (18 college players were killed in the 1905 season); even so, women's sports still get relatively little airtime, while the audience for wrestling's faux brutality grows apace. This able look at the impact of commercialism and the ``win at any cost'' philosophy makes it easier to see the less visible challenges that talented athletes face. Sources, further reading. B&w photos, and index not seen. (Nonfiction. 12+)