Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports Paperback – Apr 16 2009
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Whether it's the college kid trying to pick up a little extra pocket money or the multi-millionaire superstar seeking that elusive edge, cheating happens! In Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports, Fran Zimniuch chronicles some of the most infamous cases of cheating in sports history. Zimniuch takes you onto the field and into the dressing rooms as he delves into the minds of those who choose to cheat. After reading this eye-opening and riveting account, you'll never watch sports again with the same innocence. (Jim Evans, former Major League umpire)
Crooked is a nice little surprise of a book. Using psychology, history, sociology and a fan’s love of the game, Zimnuich takes a hard look at duplicity in sports, both pro and amateur. His manner is folksy and fan-friendly as he examines dozens of unsavory scandals. (Pacific Northwest Inlander)
The soft underbelly in sports, the cheaters, the phonies, the point shavers, the money grabbers are examined thoroughly in Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports. Fran’s book reveals that sports is not all romance and purity. It is as much cheating and fraud. It is, to put it more clearly, real life in sweat socks and uniform pants (Maury Allen)
About the Author
Fran Zimniuch is an award-winning journalist and columnist who has written for various newspapers and national magazines for more than two decades. He is the author of five books, including Going, Going, Gone: The Art of the Trade in Major League Baseball. He lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Highly recommended for sports fans (not just a baseball book) who wish to explore the phenomenon of deception that exists in our modern sporting world.
Society seems apathetic toward cheating—“It’s just part of the game.” The social cost of cheating is the loss of trust among peers and the degradation of the sense of community. We need to be duly alarmed by the aberrant behavior of sports celebrities. We need a societal change in attitude.
The author suggests that belief in god and religion is important in the development of individual honesty. She seems somewhat ambivalent toward non-believers, but voices her skepticism that we possess a moral compass and an appreciation for honesty as an individual and social value. Herein, as an advocate for fact-based reasoning, I must take issue with the author. To suggest that one must believe in ancient superstition (god) to value honesty is untenable. We free-thinkers submit honestly our inability to believe in that which cannot be verified, and hence do not lend our support to religion. How honest can a person be who advocates, and proselytizes, that which she cannot know to be true?
Aside from this annoying detail in the book, the author is thorough in citing all kinds of cheating in sport, even going back three millennia in the discussion of the Olympic Games. I would be happier if the book made some attempt at exploring more of the complexities associated with sports and the occurrence of cheating:
For example, it would be interesting to note the demographics associated with cheating: Where do cheaters originate—from the inner city, affluent neighborhoods, rural areas, blue collar…. Are there ethnic distinctions, or can a correlation be found with religious belief or family values? In looking at the individuals discussed in the book, they seem to consist of relatively affluent people, perhaps driven by an inordinate need to acquire wealth to satisfy expectations of friends and family. Well, I speculate, but this might be an area worth exploring.
Also, complex ethical questions can be involved: We can imagine that bio-engineers may someday develop substances that enhance individual performance with little or no adverse physiological effect. We might oppose the use of these substances in athletics on the grounds that such use defeats honest competition. But how does this differ from, for example, a young athlete’s access to the support of her modestly wealthy family, which hires a personal trainer to help her achieve a degree of proficiency otherwise unattainable? Her wealth clearly gives her an unfair advantage. Do we consider it unethical for this person to take advantage of her position to accomplish a higher level of proficiency?
Amphetamines have a contemporary use, under physicians’ care, in the treatment of ADHD and as a stimulant. There is also illegal use and abuse of this substance, sometimes leading to serious physical deterioration and even death. However, some estimate that about 10% of baseball players use ADHD medication—a somewhat higher percentage than, but not out of line with, the general population. This practice is frowned upon by MLB officials, and generally receives negative coverage in the press. But the point is that legal use of ADHD medication by the public is widespread. Since society has accepted the value of ADHD medication for general use, why should we forbid baseball players from using it? I would have appreciated further development of this issue in the book.
Bottom line: It’s an interesting book for sports fans. I recommend it, although somewhat guardedly.