Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

GV 838 .F58 A3 2015

Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing looks like a sport, but that’s only to outsiders. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life.

Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses – off the coasts of New York and San Francisco – and dramatizes the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves.

Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly – he tries to ride maxed-out Holoua Bay, on Maui, on LSD – is served with rueful humor. He and a buddy, their knapsacks crammed with reef charts, bushwhack through Polynesia. They discover – while camping on an uninhabited island in Fiji – one of the world’s greatest waves. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever father afield, he becomes an improbable anthropologist: unpicking the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, teasing out the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, navigating the black market in Southeast Asia while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity. Today, Finnegan’s surfing life is undiminished. Juggling work and family, he chases his enchantment through Long Island ice storms and forgotten corners of Madagascar.

Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.”
– publisher description

Cheated

Cheated

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports by Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham

GV 691 .U57 S65 2015

“In 2010 allegations of an utterly corrupt academic system for student-athletes emerged from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, home of the legendary Tar Heels. As the alma mater of Michael Jordan, Larry Brown, Marion Jones, Lawrence Taylor, Rashad McCants, and many others; winner of forty national championships in six different sports; and a partner in one of the best rivalries in sports, UNC-Chapel Hill is a world-famous colossus of college athletics. In the wake of the Wainstein report, however, the fallout from this scandal – and the continuing spotlight on the failings of college athletics – has made the school ground zero in the debate about how the $16 billion college sports industry operates.

Written by UNC professor of history Jay Smith and UNC athletics department whistleblower Mary Willingham, Cheated exposes the fraudulent inner workings of this famous university. For decades these internal systems have allowed woefully underprepared basketball and football players to take fake courses and earn devalued degrees from one of the nation’s top universities while faculty and administrators looked the other way. In unbiased and carefully sourced detail, Cheated recounts the academic fraud in UNC’s athletics department, even as university leaders focused on minimizing the damage in order to keep the billion-dollar college sports revenue machine functioning. Smith and Willingham make an impassioned argument that the “student-athletes” in these programs are being cheated out of what, after all, is promised them in the first place: a college education.”
– publisher description

Michael Jordan: The Life

Michael Jordan The Life

Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

GV 884 .J67 L39 2014

“The shrug. The shot. The flu game. Michael Jordan is responsible for sublime moments so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. When most people think of him, they think of his beautiful shots with the game on the line, his body totally in sync with the ball – hitting nothing but net.

But for all his greatness, this scion of a complex family from North Carolina’s Coastal Plain has a darker side: he’s a ruthless competitor and a lover of high stakes. There’s never been a biography that encompassed the dual nature of his character and looked so deeply at Jordan on and off the court – until now.

Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby spent almost thirty years covering Michael Jordan’s career in college and the pros. He witnessed Jordan’s growth from a skinny rookie to the instantly recognizable global ambassador for basketball whose business savvy and success have millions of kids still wanting to be just like Mike. Yet Lazenby also witnessed the Michael Jordan whose drive and appetite are more fearsome and more insatiable than any of his fans could begin to know. Michael Jordan: The Life explores both sides of his personality to reveal the fullest, most compelling story of the man who is Michael Jordan.

Lazenby draws on his personal relationships with Jordan’s coaches; countless interviews with Jordan’s friends, teammates, and family members; and interviews with Jordan himself to provide the first truly definitive study of Michael Jordan: the player, the icon, and the man.” – publisher description

League of Denial

League of Denial

League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru

RC 1220 .F6 F35 2013

Professional football players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis.

“So concluded the National Football League in a December 2005 scientific paper on concussions in America’s most popular sport. That judgment, implausible even to a casual fan, also contradicted the opinion of a growing community of neuroscientists who worked in vain to convince the NFL that it was facing a deadly new scourge: a chronic brain disease that was driving an alarming number of players – including some of the all-time greats – to madness.

Comprehensively, and for the first time, award-winning ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru tell the story of a public health crisis that emerged from the playing fields of our twenty-first-century pastime. Everyone knows that football is violent and dangerous. But what the players who built the NFL into a $10 billion industry didn’t know – and what the league sought to shield from them – is that no amount of padding could protect the human brain from the force generated by modern football, that the very essence of the game could be exposing these players to brain damage.

In a fast-paced narrative that moves between the NFL trenches, America’s research labs, and the boardrooms where the NFL went to war against science, League of Denial examines how the league used its power and resources to attack independent scientists and elevate its own flawed research – a campaign with echoes of Big Tobacco’s fight to deny the connection between smoking and lung cancer. It chronicles the tragic fates of players like Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who was so disturbed at the time of his death he fantasized about shooting NFL executives; and former San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau, whose diseased brain became the target of an unseemly scientific battle between researchers and the NFL. Based on exclusive interviews, previously undisclosed documents, and private e-mails, this is the story of what the NFL knew and when it knew it – questions at the heart of a crisis that threatens football, from the highest levels all the way down to Pop Warner.” – publisher description

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey

The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game by Edward Achorn

GV 875 .A57 .A35 2013

“Chris Von der Ahe knew next to nothing about baseball when he risked his life’s savings to found the franchise that would become the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet the German-born beer garden proprietor would become one of the most important – and funniest – figures in the game’s history.

Von der Ahe picked up the team for one reason – to sell more beer. Then he helped gather a group of ragtag professional clubs together to create a maverick new league that would fight the haughty National League, reinventing big-league baseball to attract Americans of all classes. Sneered at as “The Beer and Whiskey Circuit” because it was backed by brewers, distillers, and saloon owners, their American Association brought Americans back to enjoying baseball by offering Sunday games, beer at the ballpark, and a dirt-cheap ticket price of twenty-five cents.

The womanizing, egocentric, wildly generous Von der Ahe and his fellow owners filled their teams’ rosters with drunks and renegades, and drew huge crowds of rowdy spectators who screamed at umpires and cheered like mad as the Philadelphia Athletics and St. Louis Browns fought to the bitter end for the 1883 pennant.

In The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, Edward Achorn re-creates this wondrous and hilarious world of cunning, competition, and boozing, set amidst a rapidly transforming America. It is a classic American story of people with big dreams, no shortage of chutzpah, and love for a brilliant game that they refused to let die.”
– publisher description

The Rise of Gridiron University: Higher Education’s Uneasy Alliance with Big-Time Football

The Rise of Gridiron University: Higher Education’s Uneasy Alliance with Big-Time Football
by Brian M. Ingrassia

GV 959.5 .I64 2012

“The quarterback sends his wide receiver deep. The crowd gasps as he launches the ball. And when he hits his man, the team’s fans roar with approval – especially those with the deep pockets. Make no mistake; college football is big business, played with one eye on the score, the other on the bottom line. But was this always the case?

Brian M. Ingrassia here offers the most incisive account to date of the origins of college football, tracing the sport’s evolution from a gentlemen’s pastime to a multi-million dollar enterprise that made athletics a permanent fixture on our nation’s campuses and cemented college football’s place in American culture. He takes readers back to the late 1800s to tell how schools embraced the sport as a way to get the public interested in higher learning – and then how football’s immediate popularity overwhelmed campuses and helped create the beast we know today.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Ingrassia proves that the academy did not initially resist the inclusion of athletics; rather, progressive reformers and professors, especially in psychology and the social sciences, embraced football as a way to make the ivory tower less elitist. With its emphasis on disciplined teamwork and spectatorship, football was seen as a “middlebrow” way to make the university more accessible to the general public. What it really did was make athletics a permanent fixture on campus with its own set of professional experts, bureaucracies, and ostentatious cathedrals.

Ingrassia examines the early football programs at universities like Michigan, Stanford, Ohio State, and others, then puts those histories in the context of Progressive Era culture, including insights from coaches like Georgia Tech’s John Heisman and Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne. He describes how reforms emerged out of incidents such as Teddy Roosevelt’s son being injured on the field and a section of grandstands collapsing at the University of Chicago. He also touches on some of the problems facing current day college football and shows us that we haven’t come far from those initial arguments more than a century ago.

The Rise of Gridiron University shows us where and how it all began, highlighting college football’s essential role in shaping the modern university – and by extension American intellectual culture. It should have wide appeal among students of American studies and sports history, as well as fans of college football curious to learn how their game became a cultural force in a matter of a few decades.” – publisher description

Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game

Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game by Rob Ruck

GV 867.64 .R83 2011

“The colliding histories of black and Latin ballplayers in the major leagues have traditionally been told as a story of their shameful segregation and redemptive integration.  Jackie Robinson jumped baseball’s color line to much fanfare, but integration was painful as well as triumphal.  It gutted the once-vibrant Negro Leagues and often subjected Latin players to Jim Crow racism.  Today, Major League Baseball tightens its grasp around the Caribbean’s burgeoning baseball academies, while at home it embraces, and exploits, the legacy of the Negro Leagues.

After peaking at 27 percent of all major leaguers in 1975, African Americans now make up less than one-tenth – a decline unimaginable in other men’s pro sports.  The number of Latin Americans, by contrast, has exploded to over a quarter of all major leaguers and roughly half of those playing in the minors.  Award-winning historian Rob Ruck not only explains the catalyst for this sea change; he also breaks down the consequences that cut across society.  Integration cost black and Caribbean societies control over their own sporting lives, changing the meaning of the sport, but not always for the better.  While it channeled black and Latino athletes into major league baseball, integration did little for the communities they left behind.

By looking at this history from the vantage point of black America and the Caribbean, a more complex story comes into focus, one largely missing from traditional narratives of baseball’s history.  Raceball unveils a fresh and stunning truth: baseball has never been stronger as a business, never weaker as a game.” – publisher description