Summary of Players

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8 Overall

7 Importance

8 Innovation

8 Style


Wall Street Journal sportswriter Matthew Futterman presents a history of how sports in the United States – and then worldwide – became the gigantic business it is today. Futterman tells this episodic saga through the experiences of several athletes, teams and sports-oriented cable networks. Futterman is a newspaper writer presenting his first full-length book, and each chapter stands alone as a self-contained history. He includes many details of his research, especially dollar amounts and contract lengths. While intriguing, these details sometimes break up the flow of his chapters. Don’t let them block your path to his broader but worthwhile societal points. Futterman’s compelling collection of stories will appeal to those fascinated by the rise of professional sports and the various TV and players-union battles each spawned. getAbstract also recommends his well-researched backgrounder to fans interested in sports economics.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Cleveland lawyer Mark McCormack met Arnold Palmer and started a revolution in the business of sports,
  • How baseball pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter became the first free agent in pro sports,
  • How Nick Bollettieri ushered in the era of specialist training camps, and
  • How Michael Jordan became Nike, and Nike became Michael Jordan.

About the Author

Senior special writer for sports at The Wall Street Journal Matthew Futterman was part of a New Jersey Star-Ledger team than won a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.



Progress Off the Field

In today’s age of skyrocketing payments to professional athletes, you may find it hard to remember, or even believe, how little money or power athletes had just decades ago. Almost every instance of athletes’ progress – in gaining financial security, more control over their careers, and something resembling parity with the owners or controlling bodies of their sports – features the same story line. First, owners attempt to maintain monopolistic control over the players on their payrolls. Then, in an incident that sparks rebellion, some owner or controller behaves in ways that – even by the standards of 1950s or 1960s – prove to be more egotistical, grasping and shortsighted than a player can bear. The player takes the owner to court. New freedoms bring exploding salaries: Everyone – from embattled players to selfish owners to burgeoning TV networks – makes more money.

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