College Sports, Education Reform, and Constitutional Era of U.S. History

Published on 09 September 2011 by in College Sports, NCAA, Teaching American History


Dear friends and readers:

I have written for The Atlantic magazine a short history of college sports in the United States. It will be released on the web next Tuesday, September 13. For more, see below.

Meanwhile, please excuse my low profile over the past year. I have been burrowed away on several new initiatives. For the long term, I have been researching two projected books based in the Constitutional era of U.S. history, which is a significant and enthralling jump back in time for me.

I have also joined novel experiments to reform the teaching of American history in our schools.  Improvement is sorely needed.  Students score abysmally low on history and basic civics, in part because schools have been evaluated on test scores limited to math and reading.  With textbooks dying out, and inadequate, our goal is to provide teachers with story-based resource material in engaging, digestible units at low cost, or for free.  My part so far has been to extract from my civil rights trilogy the most essential narrative lessons for both printed edition and access via the internet.  I began the process a reluctant, old-fashioned author but have become an eager convert.  The upcoming efforts will be announced in the next few months and launched next year.

The Atlantic assignment took me, a casual sports fan, into unfamiliar worlds of colliding passion. Many people think big-money sports have corrupted higher education, while others think greedy athletes have corrupted college sports. Instead, I found thoughtless exploitation beneath the NCAA’s Oz-like amateur ideal. It made me an abolitionist, and I hope at least to broaden the scope of debate. I welcome your reaction. Advance tidbits of my argument will be posted daily until Tuesday.

One Response to “College Sports, Education Reform, and Constitutional Era of U.S. History”

  1. Margaret Moir says:

    I read your trilogy on America in the King Years and was enthralled. I am the daughter of a fifth generation South Carolina father who left the family farm and became a Navy fighter pilot. I graduated hs in Virginia in 1968 and East Carolina University in 1972. Enough said. My sister, the first ordained woman in the Presbyterian Church of America (VUS) tried, much to the chagrin of my father, to leave college (Mary Baldwin) to campaign for Frank Church.

    I LOVE your book. I am so frustrated by the fictionalizing of American history, particularly our 20th century history. Thank you for documenting this facinating time.

    I just finished the Cartel. My son took Ali Hawkins to homecoming in high school. This is such a small world.