Monday, 15 June 2015

'Revisionist sports history at its best': Sperber

      Murray Sperber, America's pre-eminent college sports historian, has weighed in with a powerful endorsement of the new Rowman & Littlefield book, Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football.
      "This is revisionist sports history at its best," said Sperber, author of numerous award-winning college athletics histories, including Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football.
      A professor at University of California, Berkeley, Sperber is an authority on college sports' evolution, off the field and on.
      "Generations of football fans have grown up with the legends of the founders of the game, particularly the great coaches Amos Alonzo Stagg and Fielding Yost. Stagg created the famous Chicago 'Monsters of the Midway' and Yost created University of Michigan Big Blue football. Stagg also applied religion to sports and Yost exemplified the spirit of the American Age of Invention. Sports history has long marked them as exemplary individuals.
      "John Kryk overturns the legends and myths on Stagg and Yost. Basing his book on pain-staking research in the archives of the universities where Stagg and Yost worked, and turning up many never-previously-seen memos and correspondence,  he convincingly portrays these men as swashbuckling entrepreneurs — overwhelmed by ambition. In so doing, Kryk strips Stagg and Yost of their sainthood but reveals two fascinating characters, men who created many of the elements in what became America’s most popular sport, football.
      "Stagg vs. Yost is a must-read for every fan of college sports history -- in fact, for every person interested in how college sports grew to its gargantuan form. Highly recommended."
      Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football is the untold story of how Stagg -- held up for more than a century as America's most incorruptible sportsman -- early in his career covertly punted many of the principles he espoused and nearly worked himself to death, all to dismantle football's first hurry-up machine. Namely, Yost's "Point-a-Minute" Michigan Wolverines of 1901-05, one of football's iconic dynasties.
      The book goes on sale later this summer in both electronic and hardcover forms. It can be advance-ordered, here.
      This is Kryk's second book, after Natural Enemies, the three-times published chronicle of the long, stormy Michigan-Notre Dame football relationship.

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