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ERIC Number: EJ943889
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Essay Review: College Sports since World War II
Thelin, John
History of Education Quarterly, v51 n3 p389-396 Aug 2011
Scholarly writing on college sports gets better as the problems of college sports get worse. This does not mean that the authors are causing the problems. Rather, the excesses and ills of college sports, past and present, provide such fertile data that historians of higher education enjoy a perverse embarrassment of research riches. This maxim is well illustrated by publication of three new books, which, by happy coincidence, deal with significant changes in American college sports since World War II. The three books present incredible reconstructions of episodes and events that have no less than transformed the scope and presence of college sports both in the academic arena and in American popular culture over the past six decades. Lane Demas, "Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football" is the most focused of the three recent publications. His introductory explanation is that although the story of Jackie Robinson's pioneering role in breaking the racial color line of major league baseball in 1947 is well known as part of the American saga, there has been relatively little knowledge of the roles that Robinson and his fellow UCLA African-American team mates played starting prior to World War II--and continuing for several decades. So, one learns about Robinson as a student-athlete at UCLA, where his accomplishments in basketball and football earned him praise in the local, regional and national press--along with All Conference and All American honors. One also learns about Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, African-American student-athletes who were team mates and friends with Robinson. Kurt Edward Kemper's book deals primarily with the late 1940s and 1950s--"College Football and American Culture in the Cold War Era." Whereas Demas goes back about sixty years to research the complexities of race and civil rights as part of college sports, Kemper explores the same era as does Demas--but with an emphasis on the interplay of college football and the crafting of Cold War policies and politics. Kemper's book, focusing on the three decades following World War II, blends and complements well Michael Oriard's "Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era"--thus, providing readers with an uninterrupted story from 1940 to 2009. In "Bowled Over" Oriard provides a sequel to, or, at least a thematic continuation of, his earlier works by narrating and then making sense out of a half century of contentious developments associated with big-time college football. It's a sensible focus for two reasons: (1) football persists as the most dominant and commercialized of all college sports; and (2) most other NCAA sponsored college sports have tended to mimic the drift toward semiprofessionalization and high-stakes recruitment of student-athletes that King Football has pioneered.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A