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What I Have To Say About Sports And Other Stuff

Scandals Of ’51 Are Scandals of ’11

Scandals of ’51
Charley Rosen
(Seven Stories Press, July 1, 2003)

It has been awhile since this Charley Rosen’s book was released, but it is certainly a good read no matter how long it has been.

The idea of scandals in college sports is something still plaguing colleges and universities today. Though the problem is more with agents and the direct sharing of money as opposed to players obtaining the money through a second source, the premise — and the crime — is still the same.

But even more than that, after almost 60 years between these initial scandals and present day, the motivation for the players’ behavior is the same.

Let’s back track a little bit. Rosen recounts the scandals that plagued college basketball, running from roughly the 1940s-60s. In between, he gives the reader context by explaining a little of the history of the NBA as well as the state of the schools and their success in competition. At different points throughout this time period, players from various successful schools would fix games, playing above or below the point spread designated by gambling bookies, and the players were subsequently given part of the cut of the gamblers’ winnings.

This was widespread conduct coaches and other faculty attempted to warn the players to avoid, but the players came from low-income families or had children themselves, wives they needed to support. So they took the gambling road. All of their teammates were doing it and if they were winning the game, they didn’t feel there was anything wrong with adjusting the number of points they won by. They were caught, of course, and put on trial, and their futures suffered because of it.

More than recounting the situation, Rosen indirectly points to a problem that still persists today in a different form. Even though the players were tried and convicted, their lives ruined, and even after they went to schools and told of the temptations, cautioning current college athletes to avoid the same fate they had to endure, the problem still persists.

It persists mostly because the people preying on these college athletes keep finding new ways to hook them in. And most of the college athletes are desperate. They are playing for these schools on scholarships, but still want extra money to help their families or buy things they were never able to have.

Rosen’s book is a history book, but it reads like a newspaper article from today’s paper.

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