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The Big Time: How the 1970s Transformed Sports in America

Grand Central Oct. 2023. 496p. ISBN 9781538706695. $32.50. HIST
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Caught between the idealism of the 1960s, its youth-led counterculture movement, and the greed-is-good ethos of the 1980s, the 1970s are often overlooked as a decade of change. Journalist MacCambridge (Chuck Noll: His Life’s Work) delves into the quirky details of that time period with regard to U.S. athletics. Take, for example, the purple skates worn by the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and the American Basketball Association’s introduction of red, white, and blue basketballs, though some readers may believe MacCambridge missed exploring some particularly galvanizing historical moments in sports, such as hockey’s 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. His book emphasizes that changes in the sports world during the 1970s mirrored societal ones. The work shows how women, via Title IX, gained access to areas that had been beyond their grasp, how the popularity of sports grew due to the power of television, and how the Super Bowl, the Battle of the Sexes tennis match, and other events created shared societal experiences on an unprecedented scale. The 1970s was also the first decade of millionaire celebrity athletes, and this time period showcased athletes working together to form stronger labor unions and gain free agency.
VERDICT A valid and solid work on a decade of significant changes in the world of sports.
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