In America, sports are a popular passion, and an astoundingly lucrative business as well. Americans pay out millions of dollars annually for channels and stadiums to bring them closer to their favorite players, and every year, young athletes go to greater lengths to reach those exalted fields of play themselves. Unfortunately, in the quest to offer an ever more compelling product, the sports industry is blind to the manner in which that product is created. Doping, playing through injury, and eating disorders are widespread problems in both professional and college athletics, and speak volumes about the lengths to which people will go in order to make themselves successful. Dirty play, hazing, and cheating are common even at the lowest levels. Most troubling of all, however, are the societal problems created by the sports industry, which include racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.
Peter and Laura Finley's comprehensive work confronts the many problems facing athletics today. Using numerous examples (both historical and current), they begin with the issue as they exist at the highest levels and as they are represented in the media. They then go on to look at how the values and models expressed by professionals are adopted and utilized by coaches, parents, and eventually by amateur athletes of all ages. Finally, the Finleys provide recommendations for improving the sports environment in America, suggesting ways we can work to counteract some of these many harmful influences to ensure that sports realize their potential as a positive and rewarding activity.