The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team

Matthew Goodman. Ballantine, $29 (448p) ISBN 978-1-101-88283-2
Goodman (Eighty Days) effectively combines interviews and extensive research to definitively recreate the unfortunate story of the 1949–50 City College of New York basketball team, which won an unprecedented two college championships in the same year (the NIT and the NCAA) before being tainted by a point-shaving scandal involving several of its stars. Through his conversations with the five surviving team members (Herb Cohen, Floyd Layne, Ron Nadell, Arthur Glass, and Leroy Watkins), Goodman traces the Beavers’ path toward success, and their eventual downfall. Goodman explains how a decade earlier, a “securities analyst and aspiring bookmaker” named Charles McNeil came up with the concept of the point spread, which enabled sports bettors to gamble on what the margin of victory would be; point-shaving enabled the athletes to try to win the game, while making some intentional mistakes that would keep the final score different than predicted. The appeal of easy money to impoverished players such as center Eddie Roman was too much to resist (and as Goodman notes, point-shaving was endemic in college basket all throughout the country). Goodman closes with the argument that “the commercialization of big-time college sports had fostered a culture of gambling” that corrupted players, coaches, and administrators. Fans of college hoops will devour Goodman’s excellent history. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 05/31/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-101-88285-6
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-101-88284-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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