Book Review: The Most Expensive Game in Town
One of the nice benefits of having been involved as an advocate in the world of sports parenting for more than two decades is that lots of publishers and authors send me their books to review.
Each year, I tend to accumulate a number of either just published books or galleys of books that are soon to be published. To that end, over the new few months, I will attempt to review as many of these books that I can, as I know how difficult it is for aspiring authors to get their books any notice from the media.
Let me start with Mark Hyman’s THE MOST EXPENSIVE GAME IN TOWN: The Rising Cost of Youth Sports and the Toll on Today’s Families. Mark is a top-rate investigative journalist, and in recent years, as he’s turned his focus to the world of sports parenting, he does a wonderful job in detailing the patterns of how our society has become so obsessed with their kids in athletics.
I recall first meeting Mark a few years ago when I believe he was working for BusinessWeek, and he had contacted me to interview me about the current issues in sports parenting. In any event, Mark clearly has great passion for this topic, and it shows in his writing.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE GAME IN TOWN is chock full of anecdotes, studies, and research into what has happened in recent years with sports parenting, and it’s clearly worth reading — especially for those parents who are just starting out with their little ones in sports.
However, for those of you who have youngsters already in the sports parenting pipeline, there really isn’t anything new here that you probably haven’t already encountered. That is, you already know that travel sports are very expensive, that road tournaments can be very pricey, that corporate sponsors of Little League like Kellogg’s on ESPN do it because of the TV ratings involved, not because of altruistic reasons, that expensive private coaching and specialty camps have become the norm, and on and on.
Don’t get me wrong. Mark does an excellent job in providing this kind of overview, and his book presents all the facts. I only wish that more sports parents took the time to read his book and many of the other similar sports parenting books that try to cover the same points.
The problem is – and this is very vexing for all of us who care about kids who play sports these days - very few sports parents, educators, coaches, or athletic administrators ever seem to dig into these books. The last book that was a true national best-seller about youth sports dates back to Bill Geist’s LITTLE LEAGUE CONFIDENTIAL, and that book first came out in the 1990s.
Bottom line: THE MOST EXPENSIVE GAME IN TOWN is a nicely-written and thoroughly well-researched book that will truly verify your concerns and worries that the cost of sports parenting has skyrocketed out of control.