Beer and Circus: How Big-Time College Sports is Crippling Undergraduate Education

Murray Sperber, Author
Murray Sperber, Author Henry Holt & Company $26 (322p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3864-4
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-0-8050-6811-5
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-3669-9
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A stunning outline of the contemporary educational landscape, Sperber's book provides a stark analysis of academia's abandonment of its undergraduate students. Alluding to the ancient Roman practice of placating people with cheap bread and ostentatious spectacles, Sperber argues that an ever-growing number of state universities lure undergraduates to their schools with halcyon images of booze-filled parties and prominent sports programs while abandoning their commitment to the students' education. Administrators use the students' sorely needed tuition dollars to fund sports, build research facilities and hire world-class faculty members, who give the school prestige but scarcely give their legions of undergraduate charges the time of day. With an eye fastened on the dangerous phenomenon of binge drinking, Sperber (College Sports Inc.) backs his assertions with responses to a questionnaire he circulated to students across the country, interviews with professors and administrators and frequent citations from sociological studies. Sperber methodically attempts to persuade readers that at the largest universities, where the majority of young Americans attain their undergraduate degrees, ""the party scene connected to big-time sports events replaces meaningful undergraduate education."" Though he admits his work deals mainly with anecdotal rather than scientific proof, the wealth of evidence Sperber amasses to support his convictions makes for a striking, sobering read. (Sept.)
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