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Sports Crazy - How Sports Are Sabotaging American Schools

Sports Crazy

How Sports Are Sabotaging American Schools

By Steven J. Overman
Hardcover : 9781496821300, 260 pages, February 2019
Paperback : 9781496821317, 260 pages, February 2019

A reasoned, radical proposal to overhaul American school sports and free education from the madness of competition and entertainment


Sports Crazy: How Sports Are Sabotaging American Schools exposes the excesses of middle and high school sports and the detrimental effects our sports obsession has on American education. Institutions are increasingly emulating college and professional sports models and losing sight of a host of educational and health goals.

Steven J. Overman describes how this agenda is driven largely by partisan fans and parents of athletes who exert an inordinate influence on school priorities, and he explains how and why school administrators shockingly and consistently capitulate to these demands. The author underscores the incongruity of public schools involved in an entertainment business and the effects this diversion has on academic integrity, learning, life experience, and overall educational outcomes.

Overman examines out-of-control school sports within the context of a school’s educational mission and curriculum, with telling reference to impacts on physical education. He explores as well the outsized place of interscholastic sports beyond the classroom and scrutinizes the distorted relationship between intramural or recreational sports and elitist, varsity athletics. Overman’s chapter on tackle football explains many reasons why this sport should be eliminated from the school extracurriculum and replaced by flag or touch football.

Overman presents a brief history of interscholastic sports, and he compares and contrasts the American experience of school-sponsored sport to the European model of community-based clubs. Which approach better serves students? Overman recommends reforms in the context of a radical proposal to phase out interscholastic sports in favor of an intramural or club model. This approach would alleviate such problems as elitism and gender bias and reign in hypercompetitiveness while freeing schools to educate students rather than provide public entertainment.


"Sports Crazy: How Sports are Sabotaging American Schools furthers previous critiques of interscholastic sports expressing similar concern and urgency."

- William F. Meehan III, University of Delaware, The Journal of American Culture, Vol. 43, Issue 2, June 2020

"Finally, a book that uncovers the true costs of interscholastic sports! Sports Crazy should be required reading for school board members and educational leaders. Overman ‘schools’ us about a very big elephant in an increasingly smaller room and its impact on our schools as well as our cultural values. Bravo!"

- Etta Kralovec, associate professor of teacher education at University of Arizona and author of Schools That Do Too Much: Wasting Time and Money in Schools and What We Can All Do about It

"Taken-for-granted assumptions and beliefs about school-sponsored sports have led people to overlook the very problems that prevent school sports from living up to their promise as developmental activities. Overman identifies and investigates those problems in the hope of facilitating constructive changes that serve the interests of schools and students. As a myth buster and eye opener, this book is a must-read for parents and educators alike."

- Jay Coakley, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and author of Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies

"Extensively researched, Overman’s book makes sense of the increasingly numerous voices calling for a serious examination and reassessment of the role of sports in schools. A must-read for educators, parents, and community leaders."

- John R. Gerdy, author of Air Ball: American Education’s Failed Experiment with Elite Athletics and Ball or Bands: Football vs. Music as an Educational and Community Investment