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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Three Sports-Related Books to Read for Pure Recreation

9 September 2004

Every once in awhile, in between heavy bouts of betting, handicapping, shopping for prices and attempting to middle everything that moves, a bettor should a) take a nap b)read something that makes him more knowledgeable or insightful. With the latter in mind, here are three recently published books that are interesting, insightful and informative.

The three titles are The Dream Job (Sports, Publicity and Marketing) by Melvin Helitzer (450 pages, paperbound, $29.95); Out of Bounds (Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime) by Jeff Benedict (254 pages, hardbound, $24.95) and Bloody Sundays (Inside The Dazzling, Rough-And-Tumble World of the NFL) by Mike Freeman (298 pages, hardbound, $24.95).

The Dream Job is designed for college and pro sports management professionals, publicists, promotion managers with corporations, sports writers with national media, sports agents, attorneys and business managers. The author teaches a course at Ohio University in those related areas, and his book, the first ever of its kind, contains 18 chapters, including material for those who want to become a sports information director (SID) for a college or who might be assigned to writing news releases or features about a school or team. In subsequent chapters the author offers vital material on sports radio news; talk show interview ideas; including radio call-in shows and play-by-play broadcasts.

Those interested in sports photography will find out everything from hiring freelancers to writing photo captions. A chapter discussing how to conduct a news conference or when not to call one could be a "job saver" along with how to use statistics properly and how to gain media attention, including publicity ideas.

Survival tips when you're in the press box; media junkets and creating special events (including corporate sponsorship) might be worth the price of the book itself. In today's troubled times in sports, the chapter on "Riding Out a Crisis" could be important preparation (with sample scenarios) and how to use the Internet properly is also packed ideas and examples.

This is an idea checklist, survival guide and a college course all rolled into one -- for the aficionado of sports who wants to get into a lucrative, rewarding field where talent and imagination pay off in the long run.

One of the more controversial book on sports in recent years is Out of Bounds. "It's a world where right and wrong is determined by enormous amounts of money, teams of high-powered attorneys, and utter disregard for justice," the book jacket says. The author investigated 177 pro basketball players from 2001-2002 and found 40 per cent of them have a police record involving a serious crime.

The question is why? Is it because as Benedict says, "After all, they are by and large, adolescents who are excessively overpaid and overhyped to play a boy's game while living in a cocoon, where they are pampered, protected and never told no. When they are accused of breaking the law, handlers and the best lawyers money can buy rush to their side. Excuses are made, exception to rules are demanded, and quick and dirty forgiveness is expected through lawyerly denials, public apologies, and an occasional hand-slapping in the form of a one or two-game suspension and a small fine."

Benedict reviews many of the situations -- some are high-profile cases. He focuses on the colleges that "act as a minor league for the NBA."

It's not just basketball, but baseball and football, with steroid violations, aggravated manslaughter and felony rape.

On the other side, defense lawyers claim professional athletes drawing enormous salaries are easy prey for anyone with an accusing voice.

The controversy continues -- as do the incidents, before during and after each season.

With the pro football season under way, what goes on in locker-rooms, board rooms and behind closed doors may be of interest to sports fans, who wonder why a team has disintegrated or how it became a cohesive power seemingly overnight.

Freeman writes about a world few football fanatics are privy to. It's a book about how franchises are built; how a coaching philosophy can hinder or sustain a team during a grueling, often injury-plagued season. It's about salaries, egos, giving season ticket holders what they want; recruiting proper personnel; over-rated, sometimes under-rated rookies; mind games and "mind-sets."

How much of the game is psychological -- how much physical and just plain executing the play properly?

Freeman takes the fan (or bettor) inside the special, intense, high-octane world of professional football -- it's a wild, tumultuous world, explaining how players face the physical danger of injury in their pursuit of winning at all costs.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com