Play-by-Play: Radio, Television, and Big-Time College Sport / Edition 1

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The phenomenal popularity of college athletics owes as much to media coverage of games as it does to drum-beating alumni and frantic undergraduates. Play-by-play broadcasts of big college games began in the 1920s via radio, a medium that left much to the listener's imagination and stoked interest in college football. After World War II, the rise of television brought with it network-NCAA deals that reeked of money and fostered bitter jealousies between have and have-not institutions. In Play-by-Play: Radio, Television, and Big-Time College Sport noted author and sports insider Ronald A. Smith examines the troubled relationship between higher education and the broadcasting industry, the effects of TV revenue on college athletics (notably football), and the odds of achieving meaningful reform.

Beginning with the early days of radio, Smith describes the first bowl game broadcasts, the media image of Notre Dame and coach Knute Rockne, and the threat broadcasting seemed to pose to college football attendance. He explores the beginnings of television, the growth of networks, the NCAA decision to control football telecasts, the place of advertising, the role of TV announcers, and the threat of NCAA "Robin Hoods" and the College Football Association to NCAA television control. Taking readers behind the scenes, he explains the culture of the college athletic department and reveals the many ways in which broadcasting dollars make friends in the right places. Play-by-Play is an eye-opening look at the political infighting invariably produced by the deadly combination of university administrators, athletic czars, and huge revenue.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Economic History - Stanley L. Engerman

In addition to its obvious appeal to sports fans, Play by Play provides an interesting examination of how society deals with new innovations and their changes over time, the conditions under which cartels attempt to organize, and the factors in their success or failure.

Journal of American History - Randy Roberts

Based on a nearly exhaustive investigation into the primary sources, including some fifty archives,... Smith's research makes abundantly clear that the presidents and athletic departments of America's leading education institutions have consistently tried to use the media—newspaper, radio, and television—for their own gain.

Aethlon - Thomas Alan Holmes

Smith's book provides a mother lode of information for those interested in the merger of big-time sports with big-time media... Smith has clearly combined a fan's interest with a scholar's devotion in researching his subject.

American Historical Review - Warren Goldstein

No one knows more than Ronald A. Smith about the history of intercollegiate sports in the United States... [ Play-by-Play] offers an extraordinarily detailed historical examination of the relationship among top-flight college sports (principally football), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and television.

Journalism and Mass Communication Educator - K. Tim Wulfemeyer

A well-researched, historical analysis... Provides an often troubling account of the corruptive power of money, broken promises, misguided priorities, crushed dreams and academic compromises. Not exactly uplifting stuff, but required reading for anyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of why it's too often true that concerns about the records of a university's football and basketball teams seem more important than the quality of a school's faculty or the educating of its students.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801866869
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald A. Smith is a professor emeritus at Penn State University and has held the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the North American Society for Sport History since 1972. His many books include Big-Time Football at Harvard, 1905; Sports and Freedom: The Rise of Big-Time College Athletics; and Saga of American Sport.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents




1 The Media and Early College Sport

2 Marconi, the Wireless, and Early Sports Broadcasting

3 The Broadcasters

4 Graham McNamee and Ted Husing Dominate the Airwaves

5 The Radio Threat to College

6 In the Image of Rockne: Notre Dame and Radio Policy

7 Radio Goes "Bowling": The Rose Bowl Leads the Way

8 Sport and the New Medium of Television

9 Networks, Coaxial Cable, Commercialism, and Concern

10 Notre Dame Chooses Commercial TV

11 Penn Challenges the NCAA and the Ivy League

12 The NCAA Experimental Year and Reactions

13 Networks: The Du Mont Challenge

14 Regional Conferences Challenge a National Policy

15 TV and the Threat of Professional Football

16 Roone Arledge and the Influence of ABC-TV

17 Advertising, Image versus Money, and the Beer Hall Incident

18 The Television Announcer's Role in Football Promotion

19 The Cable Television Dilemma: More May Be Less

20 TV Money, Robin Hood, and the Birth of the NCAA

21 TV Property Rights and a CFA Challenge to the NCAA

22 Oklahoma and Georgia Carry the TV Ball for the CFA Team

23 TV, Home Rule Anarchy, and Conference Realignments

24 Basketball: From Madison Square Garden to a Televised Final Four

25 TV's Unfinished Business: The Division I-A Football Championship

Appendix: Radio, TV, and Big-Time College

Sport: A Timeline


Bibliographical Essay


Johns Hopkins University Press

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