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Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  176 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews

The fastest-growing sector of today’s sports audience is the alienated fan. Complaints abound: from inflated ticket prices, $6 hot dogs, and $9 beers to owners endlessl
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Scribner (first published 2010)
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Aug 18, 2011 Jerry rated it did not like it
It's nothing more than his personal rant about publically funded stadia. I hope he felt better after writing it.
Ryn Shane-Armstrong
In Dave Zirin's Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love, sports fans and readers of cultural criticism alike are treated to a humorous yet well-researched condemnation of the many autocratic personalities within the sports world who are working overtime to undermine the success of their own industry. Throughout the brisk but entertaining 200 pages of Bad Sports, Zirin rails against the specific excesses of the Christian and political right -- their blatant lies, hypocrisy and heavy- ...more
Ryan Mishap
Nov 27, 2014 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it
Shelves: sports
The first argument:

billionaire sports team owners are a venal and greedy lot using public money for stadiums to line their own pockets and squeezing fans for ever more money while degrading the games and the cities they are in; that public money for sports teams under the current system do not lead to increased economic activity or good jobs.

The evidence:

Profiles of various owners and their dirty doings, leaving the reader feeling a little dirty by proxy.

The second argument:

If public money is u
Aug 06, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: progressive sports fans
If you're a liberal or a sports fan (or both like me) you really need to read this book. What is wrong with America when nearly bankrupt cities with crumbling infrastructure pay millions to build stadiums and arenas for teams owned by billionaires? How and why has the religious right taken over the ballpark, a place where once people of greatly varied backgrounds could find common ground for a few hours? Though he also faults the sycophantic media and cowardly (and often bought and paid for) pol ...more
Adam Leader-Smith
Nov 13, 2011 Adam Leader-Smith rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports
I'm a big fan of Dave Zirin's columns, and his dedication to injecting radical political analysis into the coverage of sports. I was more interested in reading What's My Name, Fool? or A People's History of Sports, but read this one instead when I found that this was the only book by Zirin the UMass library had available at the moment.

Ultimately, I found it disappointing. The book reads like a collection of columns, even though it isn't. While the stories Zirin spins about owners like Donald St
Aug 26, 2010 Eddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding book by Dave Zirin. It follows other great books like A People's History of Sports. The title says it all. Sports franchise owners are destroying the greatness that was professional sport in the US (and in Liverpool a fightback has taken place). The bottom line is paramount and the game is less so. The book shows how owners have sold off great players for cheaper stars, raised ticket prices and sell $8.00 be3er at the various stadiums and arenas. As if that wasn't enough, ...more
Jul 02, 2013 Joe rated it it was ok
This was my first book by Zirin. I have a feeling I would like some of his others more than this, though. If you're already familiar with Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder, James Dolan, and all the other similar horrible humans who own sports teams than you don't really need this book. Nothing new is brought to light. Those guys are in fact horrible humans. I agree with Zirin's assessment here (although he does seem to contradict himself occasionally) - but I just don't need to read about it. I alread ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-books
This book should be read by all sports fans but with a grain of salt the size of Montana. Zirin makes a lot of good points about how owners have hampered the sports that we all love. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on Liverpool and the loathsome Tom Hicks (who gives American soccer fans a bad rap). Nevertheless, the author makes way too many leaps based on shaky evidence or goes to far to justify a point that backs his political leanings. Not that I am opposed to what he believes but he lets ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Gordon rated it liked it
Shelves: school
This book will amuse everyone that is sick to death of the cult of owners that allows them to inflict their greed and beliefs on all of us. Why can they use their parks that they have soaked their cities for to showcase their religion and political positions? If they continue to ask for money to build their palaces, shouldn't they have the common decency to reflect their communities and not themselves. This expose will show how bad owners are and how committed we are to supporting their arroganc ...more
Sep 30, 2010 Bill rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
When I saw this on the shelf, I expected to love this book. The subject alone promises volumes worth of material. Instead it left me cold.

I'm on board with public financing of stadiums being a poor investment for taxpayers. But, to suggest that such financing should give the government the right to assert eminent domain against the teams when the owner wants to do something you don't like is preposterous.

Also, after decrying the evils of publicly-funded stadiums, he then proceeded to ensure you
Devin Wallace
Jan 22, 2011 Devin Wallace rated it really liked it
Dave Zirin goes above and beyond what many sports writers cover. Instead of focusing solely on the stat box, he examines the causes behind the glimmer and glammer of professional sports. He does not hold his punches; he will call out any group involved in the continued fleecing of the American public in the name of profits. In his easy-to-read, humorous yet factual style, he lays out the case against greedy American sports owners, and their plans to steal even more money from the general public, ...more
Gary Turner
Feb 17, 2014 Gary Turner rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for those sports fans out there. I am one of those that could name the starting lineup of every baseball team in about 1962. Now i do not know any starting lineup, and don't care because it will change next week anyway. All our states and cities should pass laws to own their teams. All professional sports included.
Mary McCoy
Sep 06, 2010 Mary McCoy rated it liked it
As a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is owned by two of the most venal, odious people ever to walk the earth, this book was just the balm my injured sense of decency and justice needed.

It was also somehow comforting to realize that there are owners out there just as bad as Frank and Jamie McCourt. Dick DeVos, Donald Sterling, and James Dolan, to name a few.

Zirin is prone to be a little didactic and flamboyant with his metaphors; however, there's really not another sportswriter like him out
Feb 08, 2013 Natan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
This is an awful book. That isn't to say the author doesn't have some good points. I would even recommend the first and last chapters. Unfortunately, besides that, the book is just one mud-slinging chapter after another, where the author targets specific team owners and describes how their various actions, ideologies and political leanings differ from his own. Naturally, all the owners' ideas and morals are totally flawed.
This isn't really a book about sports. It's about Dave Zirin, and all the
Phil Simon
Mar 26, 2011 Phil Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Zirin is pretty far on the left but that hardly stopped me from enjoying the book. His central premise is a sound one: billionaire owners are extracting huge sums from already tight public coffers rather than spending their own money on stadiums. More teams ought to be publicly owned. He's also not a fan of owners' use of their stadiums as political and religious forums.

It's hard to disagree with this.

At the same time, the book seems a bit like a polemic sans pragmatic steps that we the public
Oct 08, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing
Sports team owners are generally a bunch of creeps who regularly extort as much money as possible from their host cities while abusing the fans who show up at the games by making them pay eight bucks for a plastic bottle of Coors Light. This book profiles the worst of the worst: Don Sterling (Clippers), Charles Dolan (Knicks), Dan Snyder (Redskins) and Peter Angelos (Orioles). Commissioners don't get spared either, especially Gary Bettman and David Stern.
Jan 29, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
A interesting and fairly fast read. Zirin pretty much takes to task the worst owners in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. He also points out how city's and municipalities will bend over backwards to finance stadiums and arenas for some of these very same owners. Zirin also brings up the idea of community ownership of pro sports teams such as how the Green Bay Packers are owned and operated but really doesn't go far enough in making his case.
Feb 14, 2013 Matthew rated it really liked it
Great summary about how the owners of our sports teams use our allegiances to build tax-payer funded stadiums, preach their religious and political message to a captive audience, and proverbially take their ball and go home when they don't get there way. Overall it's a charge to us fans to fight the hard fight to have a more active roll in what rightly belongs to us as those in Green Bay were able to do.
Nov 28, 2015 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For someone who's come to Zirin through more recent work, this book is interesting because it contains much of what he does best but also demonstrates ways in which he has advanced as a writer and thinker since the time of writing (2015 Zirin has a much better take on issues around sex work and mental health than the way they're referred to here).
Sep 29, 2010 Kristina rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Angry about ticket prices? Frustrated with your city's broken infrastructure as you ride the shoddy subway to watch a game at the big, brand new stadium? Outraged by the ruthless business practices of spoiled rich people? Zirin justifies your anger as he reveals the greedy, unfair play by team owners.
Stan Lanier
Aug 05, 2012 Stan Lanier rated it really liked it
A thoughtful argument for making major league sports in the US of A public utilities. This is especially the case when the debt is collectivized and the profit privatized. Non-sports fans would find these musings about the political economy of big time sports of interest.
Michael Abbattista
This book is entertaining and infuriating at the same time. I recommend it to anyone whose blood pressure rises at any mention of PSLs, ridiculous ticket prices and empty seats at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Jul 14, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little out-dated (this book came out in '10) but still a great quote: "If the LA Clippers were publicly owned, Donald Sterling could devote his attention full-time to evictions and hookers." Yup.
Jack Goodstein
Mar 27, 2011 Jack Goodstein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Radical look at sports owwnership and how millionaire owners are ruing the games Americans love. Full review will be on Blogcritics soon.

Oct 28, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
Several lessons: so many owners are psychopaths. Second, a socialist community owned model of team ownership is the way to go. Great read.
Aug 21, 2010 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful combination of two of my passions --progressive politics and sports. Zivin's snarky, sarcastic humor makes it even more fun.
Jul 27, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Great read, but if you are a true sports fan be sure to take your blood pressure meds before reading.
Nov 12, 2011 Judi rated it liked it
I now hate virtually every owner of a major league sports team. With good reason.
Sep 18, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
awesome... I'm quoted on page 5! woot! It's true... I won't pay for beer at ballgames.
K J Vojir Esposito
K J Vojir Esposito marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2016
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Named of the UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World”, Dave Zirin writes about the politics of sports for the Nation Magazine. He is their first sports writer in 150 years of existence. Zirin is also the host of Sirius XM Radio’s popular weekly show, Edge of Sports Radio. He has been called “the best sportswriter in the United States,” by Robert Lipsyte. Dave Zirin is, in addition ...more
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