Sports: The All-American Addiction

Sports: The All-American Addiction

Sports: The All-American Addiction

Sports: The All-American Addiction


John R. Gerdy knows sports inside-out. He has been an All-American Basketball Player whose college jersey was retired. He was briefly a professional player. Later he served as an associate commissioner in the NCAA's Southeastern Conference, and as a legislative and ethical advisor to the NCAA and the Knight Commission. Currently he teaches courses on sports administration.

Now, in Sports: The All-American Addiction, he brings his insights and observations together in a radical, critical evaluation of the impact of sports on American life.

This book argues that our society's huge investment in organized sports is unjustified. Ardent boosters say that sports embody the "American Way, " developing winners by teaching lessons in sportsmanship, teamwork, and discipline. In fact, Gerdy writes, modern sports are eroding American life and undermining traditional American values essential to the well-being of the nation and its people. Like a drug, this obsession allows Americans to escape problems and ignore issues.

Gerdy asks tough questions. Have sports lost their relevance? Is it just mindless entertainment? Is our enormous investment in sports as educational tools appropriate for a nation that needs graduates to compete in the information-based, global economy of the twenty-first century? Do organized sports continue to promote positive ideals? Or, do sports, in the age of television, corporate sky boxes, and sneaker deals, represent something far different?

Boldly making his case, Gerdy detects five causes for alarm. A violent, win-at-all-cost mentality exists. A greater number of spectators are idly watching the few elite athletes. An athletic culture that is anti-intellectualsystematically creates "dumb jocks." While bridges, inner-cities, and schools are crumbling, tremendous sums of tax dollars vanish to wealthy owners, millionaire players, and to college athletic programs. Studies show that spor


A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.

—Mark Twain

I love sports.

I have been involved in organized athletics my entire life in virtually every capacity imaginable—as a player, a youth league coach, as a fan, and as a youth and college administrator. I believe very strongly that participation in athletics can teach valuable life lessons in ethics, discipline, and teamwork. There is no question in my mind that athletics can contribute in vibrant and meaningful ways to the missions of our nation's educational institutions. Sports also offer a way to connect with others. I know these things to be true; from playing sandlot games as a youngster, to providing me with a clear identity during those insecure adolescent high school years, to getting the opportunity to attend college on scholarship, to earning a living playing professionally, to seeing its effect on children from the viewpoint of a youth sports program director, I have witnessed the positive impact of sports.

I believe very strongly in the power and potential of athletics to mold people and change lives. It did mine. It is this belief in athletics' potential as an educational tool that drove me to choose athletic . . .

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