When pro football players formed a union to stand up against the NFL for their own interests, they chose lawyer Ed Garvey as their Executive Director. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), would take on the NFL over player contracts, collective bargaining agreements, and antitrust suits. It lobbied for players’ free agency, contract rights, and impartial arbitration of disciplinary disputes. Garvey navigated strikes, lockouts, scabs, stooges, lies, as well as the sports media complex—to maintain players’ dignity. According to the league, the players were to take what they were given and “never ask why.”
In Never Ask “Why,” journalist Chuck Cascio presents the late Garvey’s rich account of the early years of the NFLPA, taking readers among the players as they held the league accountable to play fair. Learning from their mistakes, the NFLPA would succeed in curbing commissioner Pete Rozelle’s disciplinary power and striking down the Rozelle Rule’s absolute control over free agency.
Garvey tells the intimate stories of how pro football players, rivals on the field, rallied together to stand up for themselves. He worked tirelessly to change a system that exploited players and even controlled the media. In the end, Garvey shows how the NFLPA transformed the state of pro sports leagues today and how, even still, they work to keep down the players on whose backs they profit.
In this collection, sixteen scholars explore topics as diverse as the historical debate over black athletic superiority, the selling of sport in society, the eroticism of athletic activity, sexual fears of women athletes, and the marketing of the marathon.
In line with the changing nature of sport history as a field of study, the essays focus less on traditional topics and more on themes of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and national identity, which also define the larger parameters of social and cultural history. It is the first anthology to situation sport history within the broader fields of social history and cultural studies.
Contributors are Melvin L. Adelman, William J. Baker, Pamela L. Cooper, Mark Dyreson, Gerald R. Gems, Elliott J. Gorn, Allen Guttmann, Stephen H. Hardy, Peter Levine, Donald J. Mrozek, Michael Oriard, S. W. Pope, Benjamin G. Rader, Steven A. Riess, Nancy L. Struna, and David K. Wiggins.
New York has long been both America’s leading cultural center and its sports capital, with far more championship teams, intracity World Series, and major prizefights than any other city. Pro football’s “Greatest Game Ever Played” took place in New York, along with what was arguably history’s most significant boxing match, the 1938 title bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. As the nation’s most crowded city, basketball proved to be an ideal sport, and for many years it was the site of the country’s most prestigious college basketball tournament. New York boasts storied stadiums, arenas, and gymnasiums and is the home of one of the world’s two leading marathons as well as the Belmont Stakes, the third event in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
New York sportswriters also wield national influence and have done much to connect sports to larger social and cultural issues, and the vitality and distinctiveness of New York’s street games, its ethnic institutions, and its sports-centered restaurants and drinking establishments all contribute to the city’s uniqueness.
“I believe in rules. Sure I do. If there weren't any rules, how could you break them?”
The history of baseball is rife with colorful characters. But for sheer cantankerousness, fighting moxie, and will to win, very few have come close to Leo “the Lip” Durocher. Following a five-decade career as a player and manager for baseball’s most storied franchises, Durocher teamed up with veteran sportswriter Ed Linn to tell the story of his life in the game. The resulting book, Nice Guys Finish Last, is baseball at its best, brimming with personality and full of all the fights and feuds, triumphs and tricks that made Durocher such a success—and an outsized celebrity.
Durocher began his career inauspiciously, riding the bench for the powerhouse 1928 Yankees and hitting so poorly that Babe Ruth nicknamed him “the All-American Out.” But soon Durocher hit his stride: traded to St. Louis, he found his headlong play and never-say-die attitude a perfect fit with the rambunctious “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals. In 1939, he was named player-manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and almost instantly transformed the underachieving Bums into perennial contenders. He went on to manage the New York Giants, sharing the glory of one of the most famous moments in baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard ’round the world,” which won the Giants the 1951 pennant. Durocher would later learn how it felt to be on the other side of such an unforgettable moment, as his 1969 Cubs, after holding first place for 105 days, blew a seemingly insurmountable 8-1/2-game lead to the Miracle Mets.
All the while, Durocher made as much noise off the field as on it. His perpetual feuds with players, owners, and league officials—not to mention his public associations with gamblers, riffraff, and Hollywood stars like George Raft and Larraine Day—kept his name in the headlines and spread his fame far beyond the confines of the diamond.
A no-holds-barred account of a singular figure, Nice Guys Finish Last brings the personalities and play-by-play of baseball’s greatest era to vivid life, earning a place on every baseball fan’s bookshelf.
Olympic gold medalist. Two-time world heavyweight champion. Hall of Famer. Infomercial and reality TV star. George Foreman’s fighting ability is matched only by his acumen for selling. Yet the complete story of Foreman’s rise from urban poverty to global celebrity has never been told until now.
Raised in Houston’s “Bloody Fifth” Ward, battling against scarcity in housing and food, young Foreman fought sometimes for survival and other times just for fun. But when a government program rescued him from poverty and introduced him to the sport of boxing, his life changed forever.
In No Way but to Fight, Andrew R. M. Smith traces Foreman’s life and career from the Great Migration to the Great Society, through the Cold War and culture wars, out of urban Houston and onto the world stage where he discovered that fame brought new challenges. Drawing on new interviews with George Foreman and declassified government documents, as well as more than fifty domestic and international newspapers and magazines, Smith brings to life the exhilarating story of a true American icon. No Way but to Fight is an epic worthy of a champion.
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