As the clever title suggests, this book takes as its thesis the notion that sports and its attendant problems--corruption, sexism, racism, substance abuse--are but a reflection of deeper ills within society at large. Aaseng ( True Champions ; Navajo Code Talkers ) admits in his preface that one volume can offer only an overview of some very complicated issues, but as such it is a useful introduction. He covers a lot of territory quickly, offering in each chapter fine historical perspective on specific problems, followed by an analysis of their more contemporary manifestations. He is particularly on target concerning issues of sex discrimination, an area of special concern as gender equality becomes a battle cry in college athletics around the country. On the negative side: in his zeal to cover so much ground in a limited amount of space, he often lumps together dissimilar phenomena to make a point. For example, in his chapter on violence in sports, he equates ballplayers being pelted with debris by fans with the fear of gang violence that led an L.A. high school to cancel a basketball game. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)
Gr 6-10-- Aaseng raises questions that beg to be asked: when viewing the problems in sports today, ``Are we looking through a window on a corrupt sports world? Or are we looking into a mirror that simply reflects the condition of our society?'' After examining many unfortunate situations in amateur and professional athletics, he concludes that the latter question is the key. From the alcoholism of star pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander in the 1920s to the substance abuses of Bob Welch and Len Bias, Aaseng illustrates how these stars grew up in environments that sanctioned alcohol and drug use to deal with the daily stresses of life. He claims that routine violence in ice hockey, football, and boxing are allowed to continue because society wants such behavior in its games. Similarly, he says that other ills--dishonesty, racism, sexism, and the obsession with money--are reflections of the values and behavior patterns of the larger society. He makes clear that such patterns in athletics are particularly dangerous because sports figures are seen as role models for the young. Because this provocative overview sets the issues it discusses in a context of how all Americans live, readers will be able to empathize with the problems that afflict many of their heroes and relate them to their own lives. --Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Aaseng argues that the problems proliferating in professional sports today--cheating, drug abuse, violence, commercialization of sports, and racial and sexual discrimination--are not merely something new but reflections of problems prevalent in society at large. He believes, among other things, that our expectation that sports stars be exemplary citizens and role models may be unrealistic, that sports are only as violent as we want them to be, and that discrimination in sports will not end until it ends in society as a whole. In short, he views athletes as the same as other human beings and sees sports as a perfect mirror of American society. He gives readers lots to think about, and students will find many topics for papers, persuasive speeches, and debates. Aaseng notes that he consulted "hundreds" of newspaper clippings and articles in preparing his book, and he provides a list of sources for each chapter. It would have been helpful for students if all his quotations were individually cited.