"The King of Sports" weighs the good and the bad of football's impact on the United States, ending with a chapter on safety and money reforms that could make the game "just as exciting and popular, but no longer notorious." The book's positive example is the Virginia Tech program -- the author spent the 2011 season with the Hokies team.
Why Virginia Tech? The head coach, Frank Beamer, is the winningest active coach in Division I. He's coached at Virginia Tech for 26 years, spurning big-bucks offers from the pros. His program's 20 consecutive years with a bowl invitation shows that a team can win game after game after game without taking shortcuts in ethics or in the classroom. The engineering school of Virginia Tech has been a leader in research into reducing sports concussion risk. And Beamer represents an Old South university with an African-American graduation rate many Northern colleges can only envy.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
As the day of the Sugar Bowl approached, Virginia Tech coaches became concerned about the knock on their program -- "Frank Beamer can't win the big game." This did not seem on players' minds, or if it was, none mentioned as much. "Back in my day, if we lost a game, we would be in a rage, we would smash lockers," says linebackers coach Cornell Brown. "Today the guys hardly react. They care, but it is important to be seen as cool and detached." Regardless of what they are feeling inside, contemporary football players feign indifference, shrugging and saying, "It is what it is." It is what it is has become the slogan of today's team sports, meaning anything from "I am philosophical about the situation" to "Look, we got our butts kicked, what the hell do you expect me to do about it?"
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