front cover of Game Faces
Game Faces
Sport Celebrity and the Laws of Reputation
Sarah K. Fields
University of Illinois Press, 2016
Sports figures cope with a level of celebrity once reserved for the stars of stage and screen. In Game Faces , Sarah K. Fields looks at the legal ramifications of the cases brought by six of them--golfer Tiger Woods, quarterback Joe Montana, college football coach Wally Butts, baseball pitchers Warren Spahn and Don Newcombe, and hockey enforcer Tony Twist--when faced with what they considered attacks on their privacy and image. Placing each case in its historical and legal context, Fields examines how sports figures in the U.S. have used the law to regain control of their image. As she shows, decisions in the cases significantly affected the evolution of laws related to privacy, defamation, and publicity--areas pertinent to the lives of the famous sports figure and the non-famous consumer alike. She also tells the stories of why the plaintiffs sought relief in the courts, uncovering motives that delved into the heart of issues separating individual rights from the public's perceived right to know. A fascinating exploration of a still-evolving phenomenon, Game Faces is an essential look at the legal playing fields that influence our enjoyment of sports.

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George Dixon
The Short Life of Boxing's First Black World Champion, 1870–1908
Jason Winders
University of Arkansas Press, 2021

Winner, 2022 NASSH Book Award (Monograph)

On September 6, 1892, a diminutive Black prizefighter brutally dispatched an overmatched white hope in the New Orleans Carnival of Champions boxing tournament. That victory sparked celebrations across Black communities nationwide but fostered unease among sporting fans and officials, delaying public acceptance of mixed-race fighting for half a century. This turn echoed the nation’s disintegrating relations between whites and Blacks and foreshadowed America’s embrace of racial segregation.

In this work of sporting and social history we have a biography of Canadian-born, Boston-raised boxer George Dixon (1870–1908), the first Black world champion of any sport and the first Black world boxing champion in any division. George Dixon: The Short Life of Boxing’s First Black World Champion, 1870–1908 chronicles the life of the most consequential Black athlete of the nineteenth century and details for the first time his Carnival appearance, perhaps the most significant bout involving a Black fighter until Jack Johnson began his reign in 1908. Yet despite his triumphs, Dixon has been lost to history, overshadowed by Black athletes whose activism against white supremacy far exceeded his own.

George Dixon reveals the story of a man trapped between the white world he served and the Black world that worshipped him. By ceding control to a manipulative white promoter, Dixon was steered through the white power structure of Gilded Age prizefighting, becoming world famous and one of North America’s richest Black men. Unable to hold on to his wealth, however, and battered by his vices, a depleted Dixon was abandoned by his white supporters just as the rising tide of Jim Crow limited both his prospects and the freedom of Blacks nationwide.


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Get in the Game
An Interactive Introduction to Sports Analytics
Tim Chartier
University of Chicago Press, 2022
An award-winning math popularizer, who has advised the US Olympic Committee, NFL, and NBA, offers sports fans a new way to understand truly improbable feats in their favorite games.
In 2013, NBA point guard Steph Curry wowed crowds when he sunk 11 out of 13 three-pointers for a game total of 54 points—only seven other players, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, had scored more in a game at Madison Square Garden. Four years later, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team won its hundredth straight game, defeating South Carolina 66–55. And in 2010, one forecaster—an octopus named Paul—correctly predicted the outcome of all of Germany’s matches in the FIFA World Cup. These are surprising events—but are they truly improbable?
In Get in the Game, mathematician and sports analytics expert Tim Chartier helps us answer that question—condensing complex mathematics down to coin tosses and dice throws to give readers both an introduction to statistics and a new way to enjoy sporting events. With these accessible tools, Chartier leads us through modeling experiments that develop our intuitive sense of the improbable. For example, to see how likely you are to beat Curry’s three-pointer feat, consider his 45.3 percent three-point shooting average in 2012–13. Take a coin and assume heads is making the shot (slightly better than Curry at a fifty percent chance). Can you imagine getting heads eleven out of thirteen times? With engaging exercises and fun, comic book–style illustrations by Ansley Earle, Chartier’s book encourages all readers—including those who have never encountered formal statistics or data simulations, or even heard of sports analytics, but who enjoy watching sports—to get in the game.

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Global Games
Maarten Van Bottenburg
University of Illinois Press, 2001
Why is soccer the sport of choice in South America while baseball soared to popularity in the Caribbean? How did cricket become India's national sport? Why is China a stronghold of table tennis?

Maarten Van Bottenburg asserts that a hidden competition of social and international relations, rather than the particular qualities of a given sport, explains who plays what sport and why. Looking at Britain, Germany, the United States, and Japan, Van Bottenburg discusses how individual sports developed, what institutions and groups spread them to other nations, and why certain sports and not others found an international audience. As he shows, the nature of the relationship between the country of origin and the adopting country help determine how successfully a sport takes hold and to what degree new practitioners modify it. Other key factors include which groups dominated and promoted the various sports in their countries of origin, which groups appropriated them elsewhere, and the latter's positions within their society's class structure.


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Globalizing Sport
National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s
Barbara J. Keys
Harvard University Press, 2006

In this impressive book, Barbara Keys offers the first major study of the political and cultural ramifications of international sports competitions in the decades before World War II. She examines the transformation of events like the Olympic Games and the World Cup from relatively small-scale events to the expensive, celebrity-packed, politically resonant, globally popular entertainment extravaganzas familiar to us today. Focusing on the United States, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union, she details how countries of widely varying ideologies were drawn to participate in the emerging global culture. She tells of Hollywood and Coca-Cola jazzing up the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, of Hitler crowing over the 1936 Berlin games, and of the battle between democracy and dictatorship in the famed boxing matches between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. Keys also presents one of the best accounts to date of the Soviet relationship to Western sports before the rise of the “big red sports machine.”

While international sport could be manipulated for nationalist purposes, it was also a vehicle for values—such as individualism and universalism—that subverted nationalist ideologies. The 1930s were thus a decade not just of conflict but of cultural integration, which laid a foundation for the postwar growth of international ties.


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African American Athletes and Cold War Politics
Damion L. Thomas
University of Illinois Press, 2012
Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union deplored the treatment of African Americans by the U.S. government as proof of hypocrisy in the American promises of freedom and equality. This probing history examines government attempts to manipulate international perceptions of U.S. race relations during the Cold War by sending African American athletes abroad on goodwill tours and in international competitions as cultural ambassadors and visible symbols of American values. Damion L. Thomas follows the State Department's efforts from 1945 to 1968 to showcase prosperous African American athletes including Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and the Harlem Globetrotters as the preeminent citizens of the African Diaspora rather than as victims of racial oppression. With athletes in baseball, track and field, and basketball, the government relied on figures whose fame carried the desired message to countries where English was little understood. However, eventually African American athletes began to provide counter-narratives to State Department claims of American exceptionalism, most notably with Tommie Smith and John Carlos's famous black power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

front cover of Granite
Susan Butcher and David Monson
University of Alaska Press, 2007
Susan Butcher was a four-time champion of the Iditarod Trail sled dog race. Granite was her greatest lead dog, but he didn’t start that way. He was a shy, scraggly pup that the others pushed around, but Susan saw his potential. Together they worked until he became leader of the team.
While they were training for the Iditarod, Granite became deathly ill. The veterinarians said he would never be strong enough to run the race. Granite refused to accept this, and slowly he started to recover. By the time of the race he was strong enough to start, but Susan wondered if he could finish the entire thousand-mile race. Confidently Granite guided the team into the lead of the race, when suddenly they were caught in a raging Arctic blizzard. Now Susan and the whole team depended on Granite to get them through the storm. He had to call on all his inner strength and courage to save them—if he could.

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