Cover image for SportsWars : athletes in the age of Aquarius
SportsWars : athletes in the age of Aquarius
Zang, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Fayetteville : University of Arkansas Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxii, 180 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV706.5 .Z35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The Vietnam era's tensions--between tradition and new possibilities, black and white, young and old, male and female--were played out on the field of professional and organized sports. SportsWars shows that the century-old position of sports as the standard-bearer for American values, and as a central way of building character, made it a prime target in this time of general disenchantment. Critics began to challenge not only individual abuses but sport's very ideals, and for the first time these critics included athletes themselves. Zang locates a variety of larger cultural debates within professional sports and organized sports more generally: changing valuations of hard work and the physical, winning versus character, and challenges to authority. He also considers the relationships between sports and other domains of popular culture, including the counterculture, rock and roll, and Hollywood.

Author Notes

David W. Zang is a sports historian and Director of Sport Studies at Towson University. He is also the author of Fleet Walker's Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer (Nebraska, 1995).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Sports, according to the author, a sports historian, underwent an almost cataclysmic change in the late '60s and early '70s--the Vietnam era. The reasons for this change are varied and rather subtle, according to Zang, but they come down mainly to a massive culture clash between the decadesold view of sports as a noble, society-supporting, characterbuilding endeavor and the '60s notions of personal freedom and social revolution. The increasing length of players' hair, Zang shows, was only the tip of a very big iceberg. This is a fascinating book--the idea of using sports as a standard by which to measure the much greater changes in society itself is imaginative and intelligently put forth--but it is marred in places by the author's somewhat stilted, academic writing style. His tendency to use big words when small ones would do as well can be grating, and it occasionally diminishes the impact of what he is saying. Still, the book is well argued and well documented. A generally thoughtprovoking look back at an exciting and troubled time. --David Pitt

Choice Review

Zang (sports studies, Towson Univ.) has previously written the prize-winning Fleet Walker's Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer (CH, Jan'96). This brief volume (167 pages of text) examines how the Vietnam era's tensions were played out in the sports world. Sport's position as the standard-bearer for traditional values and ideals came under attack, not only from social critics but also from sportsmen. Zang primarily examines middle-class male sport. In seven superbly written, well-contextualized essays, he provides remarkable illumination on the cultural debates that involved sports, including changing valuations of hard work and the physical, conflicts between winning and character, and challenges to authority. He breaks new ground in his chapters on the collision between sport and rock and roll in the 1960s, an examination of Olympic wrestlers, the University of Pennsylvania's struggle between winning and character, sport and violence, and the football revolt at the University of Maryland in 1969. Zang offers a fascinating interpretation of the film The Bad News Bears (1976) and an iconoclastic analysis of Muhammad Ali. His research ranged from interviews to the daily press. Photographs, notes. All readership groups and levels. S. A. Riess Northeastern Illinois University