A hard-hitting examination of the many ways college football has been transformed into a moneymaking spectacle that is hurting higher education.
In the spring of 2013, a study showed that despite huge economic problems, 27 states were awarding their highest salaries to college football coaches. College football has doubled in size in the last decade thanks to generous tax breaks, lavish TV deals, and corporate sponsors eager to slap their logos on everything from scoreboards to footballs and uniforms. In one recent year, the 10 biggest programs took in $800 million from football, with profit margins far surpassing those of Fortune 500 companies. Little of this money goes to academics. Instead it sustains a wildly profligate infrastructure of coaches, trainers, marketing gurus, tutors, and a growing cadre of athletic department bureaucrats whose sole purpose is to ensure that players remain academically eligible to play.
In Billion-Dollar Ball, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gilbert M. Gaul offers a surprising, incendiary examination of how college football has come to dominate some of our best, most prestigious universities, reframing campus values, distorting academic missions, and transforming athletic departments into astonishingly rich entertainment factories.
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Much Better Books Out There On This Subject
You will like this book if you are consuming every text you can on the topic. It's worth a listen, but you need to put it at the bottom of your list because there are much better books out there.
Most Interesting: Great anecdotal evidence/stories were presented. Many of which I had not heard previously. There are some pretty good interviews with college ADs too.
Least Interesting: The author's ridiculous bias is apparent throughout the entire text and I found his opinions pretty uninformed and uninteresting if we're being honest here.
I could not stand his sarcastic tone; I found his inflection to be irritating too. To be fair, I am not sure if this is how he typically reads, or if he did this because he was asked to by the author. Either way, the bias of the author was apparent enough in the content of the book and I could have done without the artistic interpretation.
There was good information in there for sure, some anecdotal things I haven't heard before, but there are many other books that address the same issues and they do a much better job of objectively submitting their findings.
Full disclosure: I got this book because of how hungry I have been for information on the topic, and it had good info, but I found it really irritating. If you are of the mindset that the NCAA and college athletic departments are evil, with no redeeming qualities, who have theirs coming to them, then you will love it. The author makes no attempt to hide his bias and I found it really hard to take his perspective to heart when he clearly has an agenda. If you are looking for a more objective and thorough examination of the subject, then you would be better off purchasing "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football" it was hands down the best book I've ever listened to on Intercollegiate Athletics. However, If you are a fiend for the "sausage making" of college athletics like I am, and do not care about biases, you will definitely get something out of this book.
- Andrew N Dobson