Skyline: One Season, One Team, One City

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Basketball is the key to inner-city culture. It helps decipher speech and clothing styles, makes and unmakes legends, and defines much of popular history. The game rules the playgrounds, conversations, and lives of men young and old. Nowhere is this more central than at Skyline High School in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletic League is home to some of the best high school basketball in the nation. It is also a place where basketball games clash with gang wars, coaches struggle to instill discipline in a ...
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Overview

Basketball is the key to inner-city culture. It helps decipher speech and clothing styles, makes and unmakes legends, and defines much of popular history. The game rules the playgrounds, conversations, and lives of men young and old. Nowhere is this more central than at Skyline High School in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletic League is home to some of the best high school basketball in the nation. It is also a place where basketball games clash with gang wars, coaches struggle to instill discipline in a world ruled by freedom of expression, where players struggle to get to practice, to make grades, and most important, to just survive. Skyline is about basketball and life, in a place where the line separating the two often blurs. Chronicling a season in the lives of the Skyline High basketball team, Tim Keown introduces an inexperienced but inspiring coach and a cast of unique and complicated young athletes - faceless names who dream of playing in the NBA, or at least gaining the respect of their peers in the Oakland Athletic League. Skyline examines the intimate relationship between inner-city youth and basketball by depicting the hold both the environment and the sport have on these young lives. It is a rich - and compelling - look at sports and sociology.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Keown here takes us through a basketball season at Oakland's predominantly black Skyline High School, a school of 1900 students located in the city with the highest crime rate in California. Skyline is headed by Shawn Donlea, a 28-year-old white coach, who, we see, learns as much about people as he does about basketball while he challenges his players to succeed on and off the court. His team consists of the likes of Will Blackwell, a star football player, who must protect his body and his mind as the college recruiters swarm around him; David Storm, a lefthanded guard who's the team's only white player, as gritty off the court as he is on it; Jason Wright, a religious kid capable of winning an athletic scholarship to college, whose mother puts his education ahead of basketball; and Calvin Wilson, a burly football player who could steal a car as quick as he could a basketball. Keown, whose book is as much about urban life as sports, finds hope for the players as many of them go on to further their educations. This is a disturbing look at a school where a teacher like coach Donlea is the exception in an apathetic, bureaucratic system. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Keown spent a season following the basketball squad of Skyline High School, one of six teams in California's Oakland Athletic League. With its accounts of gang involvement, violence, and the hopes that sports will produce a chance to break the cycle of poverty, his chronicle is similar to other books about inner-city sports (e.g., The Right Kind of Hero , LJ 8/92). What sets it apart is the profile of Skyline'scoach: ``Shawn Donlea . . . is a 28-year-old white man with a boyish face. He grew a fu manchu mustache and a goatee . . . to exude a certain street-wise toughness that, admittedly, he does not possess.'' Donlea, who has neither close friends nor a girlfriend, devotes his life to the team. Trying to be more than a coach, he wrestles with each player in an attempt to instill discipline in a world with no rules, and his sense of commitment holds the entire book together. For large sports collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.-- Jeffrey Gay, Bridgewater P.L., Mass.
Wes Lukowsky
Skyline is one of six high schools in the Oakland Athletic League, where the basketball competition is considered among the toughest in the nation and where the athletes face the same circumstances that plague inner-city kids all over the country: poverty, drugs, crime. Keown, a "San Francisco Chronicle" sportswriter who attended almost every Skyline practice and game during the 1992-93 season, offers an up-close view of one season with the team. The book's focus is the initially uneasy relationship between the Skyline players and their first-year head coach Shawn Donlea. A driven young man with a master's degree in sports psychology, Donlea is white, suburban born, and committed to the idea that basketball should be a disciplined pursuit. The players don't see it from Donlea's perspective. Basketball plays a large role in their lives, but so do guns, gangs, drugs, and turf wars, all of which often spill into athletic arenas. As the season wears on, players and coach edge toward a middle ground where they can benefit from his on- and off-court discipline and he can relate to their lives and need for self-expression on the court. Similar in content to "The Right Kind of Heroes" (1992), Kevin Horrigan's account of Bob Shannon's East St. Louis, Illinois, football dynasty, this tough-minded yet empathetic book is equal parts basketball and sociology. Keown puts names to the too-often nameless faces of the young urban poor and forces us to see their lives in a new way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780025623057
  • Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Pages: 320

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