College basketball experienced its greatest rise in popularity during the eighties, becoming one of the most commercially successful spectator sports in America. With this rise came an era of scandal: recruiting violations, spurious admittance practices, and controversial treatment of student athletes. Within this guarded context of scrutiny, allegations of improprieties, and media celebrity, Patricia and Peter Adler penetrated the public front of a top twenty basketball team. The result of their efforts, Backboards and Blackboards: College Athletes and Role Engulfment, is a compelling inside account of an exciting, intimidating, and glamorous hidden arena.
The Adlers, both sociologists, focus this study of American college varsity basketball players on the gradual change in the athletes' sense of self. Drawing on coaches' and players' observations as well as their own analysis, the authors chart the painful journey taken by young people who began with the belief that they could have it all and be whatever they wanted, but came to realize--as college social, educational, and athletic roles conflicted--that a ``glorified'' athletic self was dominating, indeed engulfing their personalities. This lucid work relates the character and form of the athletes' socialization to recent American social and historic trends, away from broad-based interests and role variety toward narrowly focused specialization. Recommended for academics and interested lay readers.-- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred, N.Y.