This books tells you about the ugly realities of youth sports in today's society. With parents pushing their children into extremes, risking both long term injuries and psychological health; the financial "investments" in youth sports have taken the problem to another level. Youth sports have become a multi-billion dollar industry, and many parents do not realize that they are feeding this monster, that would one day take control over them. The book is rich in detail, and is very informative. It is definitely an eye opener. Needless to say, children become the biggest loser in this multi-billion dollar business.
I really wanted to like this book and had great expectations for it after listening to an interview with the author. Furthermore, I agree with the author that the cost of youth sports - just to participate - is out of hand.
The book, however, didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know. If you have a child that participates in youth sports, nothing in this book will surprise you. Sure I learned about some new websites and services that prey on parents in the elusive quest for the college scholarship and there are plenry of stories about the extent that youth teams travel, but similar stories could have been accumulated at any youth soccer, hockey or basketball game. The extent that ESPN now covers high school sports will come as a shock only to those readers that don't generally watch sports on TV.
I guess that the audience for the book though - people out of touch with the reality of youth sports. If you're in it - even a little bit - you know exactly what he's talking about. There's nothing new here. And no solutions about how to put the genie back in the bottle.
Compare it to his first book, and see how the author adds gigantic margins, an index and acknowledgements, in order to stretch this to 160 pages. This is a 100 page book and should cost half the price. Shame on him and his publisher for this. It actually makes it hard to read comfortably.
I wish it had kept its focus more on youth sports rather than going into the endorsement and advertisement. Beyond this, it extended into scouts at the college level. Having said this, I am a parent who has fallen into the trap the author so clearly defines!
This book was a gift from my dad. Though he did not read it, he thought it would be important for me to read.
There's nothing wrong with this book, but there's nothing especially excellent about it, either. As another reviewer or two have noted, the main points in this book have been covered extensively by many other media outlets for many years. I'm not sure why a publisher would want to pay Mark Hyman to duplicate excellent magazine and newspaper work by him and many others, except that it's a hot topic.
Hyman visits interesting places and does some first-hand reporting on some of the egregious businesses that have arisen in the sports-industrial complex, such as the communities that host youth sports tournaments or the hucksters who claim that their videos will get kids college athletic scholarships. Reading about that stuff just makes me glad that my teenage son is content to play community-level sports once a week, and that I can be an occasional substitute coach.
The book suffers from a few things that probably reflect a rush job. First, the preface states (I'm paraphrasing) that the book will follow the travails of three disparate families who have kids in competitive sports. But the author references them only in one chapter, and the three families are hardly representative of anything, given that almost all of the parents are journalists and artists. Second, there's a chapter about corruption in urban sports leagues that are trying to groom the next NBA star, but I'm not sure what that has to do with sports in upper-middle-class suburbia, which is the focus of the rest of the book. And third, a few folks in the book are criticized for their actions in 2009-2010, and the author makes a point of saying they haven't cleaned up their act. But he wrote the book in 2011, so it's not like they had a lot of time to adjust.
In short, if you're new to the topic, this book is a good introduction. If you're already entangled in youth sports, this book is a reminder to keep your perspective and to watch your wallet.