Making The Majors / Edition 1

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Overview

In this in-depth look at major league sports, Eric Leifer traces the growth and development of major leagues in baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, and predicts fundamental changes as the majors pursue international expansion. He shows how every past expansion of sports publics has been accompanied by significant changes in the way sporting competition is organized. With each reorganization, the majors have created teams closer in ability, bringing repetition to competition across time, only to expand and energize the public's search for differences between teams and for events that disrupt the repetitive flow. "The phenomenal success of league sports," Leifer writes, "rests on their ability to manufacture inequalities for fans to latch on to without jeopardizing the equalities that draw fans in."

Leifer supports his theory with historical detail and statistical analysis. He examines the special concerns of league organizers in pursuing competitive balance and presents a detailed analysis of how large-city domination has been undermined in the modern era of Major League Baseball. Using games from the four major league sports, he then shows how fans can themselves affect the course of competition. In NFL football, for example, fans account for nearly all of the persisting inequality in team performance. The possibility of sustaining inequality among equals emerges from the cross-pressures that fans and leagues place on competition.

With substantial data in hand, Leifer asks the essential question facing the leagues today: how can they sustain a situation that depends entirely on simultaneous equality and contention, one in which fan involvement may evaporate as soon as one team dominates? His answer has significant implications for the future of major league sports, both nationally and internationally.

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Editorial Reviews

The Economist
Leifer's insights are both keen and original. He convincingly argues that what is familiar today--stable collections of major-league teams that represent cities and play each other in an equal number of games leading to a definitive championship--was by no means predestined. This system evolved through the delicate balances achieved by professionals and amateurs in each sport, and through the interplay of the big four sports themselves. This sort of malleability, he says, will need to be maintained in the coming era of sports globalization.
Contemporary Sociology

Making the Majors is about how markets [for team sports] are made. It is a sinewy work, quite technical and packed with information, yet it is accessible and absorbing...[The book] is packed with historical detail, but the genius of the work lies in Leifer's ability to demonstrate that unique events and isolated observations derive their theoretical significance from the structures that underlie them.
— John Wilson

Choice
Leifer supports his theories with statistical analyses and historical facts, making this book a worthwhile read for anyone involved in major league sport management as well as sports fans with a statistical bent. The appendixes include much pertinent data, and the endnotes are current and factual.
Contemporary Sociology - John Wilson
Making the Majors is about how markets [for team sports] are made. It is a sinewy work, quite technical and packed with information, yet it is accessible and absorbing...[The book] is packed with historical detail, but the genius of the work lies in Leifer's ability to demonstrate that unique events and isolated observations derive their theoretical significance from the structures that underlie them.
Contemporary Sociology
Making the Majors is about how markets [for team sports] are made. It is a sinewy work, quite technical and packed with information, yet it is accessible and absorbing...[The book] is packed with historical detail, but the genius of the work lies in Leifer's ability to demonstrate that unique events and isolated observations derive their theoretical significance from the structures that underlie them.
— John Wilson
Library Journal
This book offers a dry, detailed analysis of the development of professional leagues in four major sports: baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Leifer, a former sociologist (Univ. of North Carolina), traces the evolution of each sport from independent teams, to early, regional leagues, to today's national leagues with nationwide followers, to the inevitable future of international associations. These changes came about due to such factors as the quest for competitive balance, the movement to larger cities, and television's creation of a national public. In the future, Leifer claims, teams will no longer be attached to cities but to broader entities like multinational corporations. The text is augmented by statistics, three-dimensional diagrams, and scores of graphs as well as an appendix describing the statistical measures used. Recommended for academic libraries.-John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, N.J.
Booknews
Traces the growth and development of major leagues in baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, and predicts fundamental changes as the majors pursue international expansion. Examines the special concerns of league organizers in pursuing competitive balance, presents a detailed analysis of how large-city domination has been undermined in the modern era of Major League baseball, and shows how the fans affect the course of competition. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674543317
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 396
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Leifer has taught sociology at the University of North Carolina and at Columbia University. He is now an independent scholar and businessperson.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Pursuing Accomplishment

Constraints on Accomplishment

Challenges Ahead

Laying the Groundwork

The Summer Game

A Fall College Game

An Inner-City Game

A Winter Game

On the Eve of Major Leagues

Getting Established

The First Major League

Building a Viable League

Early Challenges

The Early Prototype

A Successful Challenge

The Landis Years

Overview of a Successful Prototype

Attachment Failures

Out of Canton

Into the Midwest

Across the Border

Failure Reconsidered

The Modern Prototype

Television and the NFL

Problems Facing Rival Leagues

Organizational Innovations

Persisting Performance Inequality

Modernization

Reluctant Modernization

Late Modernization

Persisting Localism

Where They Stand

Changing Ways

Deal Making in the Past

The Meaning of Deals

Structures of Deal Making

The Impact of Deal Making on Performance

Pursuing Opportunities

Publics and Performance

No Place Like Home

Game Outcomes

Publics and Performance Inequality

Publics in Perspective

The Accomplishment

Facing the Future

A Strange New World

Appendix: The Major Leagues

Appendix: Statistics Brief

Appendix: League Statistics

Notes

References

Index

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