Google full text of our books:


The Game of Life:
College Sports and Educational Values
James L. Shulman & William G. Bowen
With a new preface by the authors

Paperback | 2002 | $55.00 | £45.95 | ISBN: 9780691096193
496 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 16 tables, 82 figures
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400840694 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Preface [HTML] or [PDF] pdf-icon | Prelude [HTML] or [PDF] pdf-icon | Prelude

Google full text of this book:

The President of Williams College faces a firestorm for not allowing the women's lacrosse team to postpone exams to attend the playoffs. The University of Michigan loses $2.8 million on athletics despite averaging 110,000 fans at each home football game. Schools across the country struggle with the tradeoffs involved with recruiting athletes and updating facilities for dozens of varsity sports. Does increasing intensification of college sports support or detract from higher education's core mission?

James Shulman and William Bowen introduce facts into a terrain overrun by emotions and enduring myths. Using the same database that informed The Shape of the River, the authors analyze data on 90,000 students who attended thirty selective colleges and universities in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s. Drawing also on historical research and new information on giving and spending, the authors demonstrate how athletics influence the class composition and campus ethos of selective schools, as well as the messages that these institutions send to prospective students, their parents, and society at large.

Shulman and Bowen show that athletic programs raise even more difficult questions of educational policy for small private colleges and highly selective universities than they do for big-time scholarship-granting schools. They discover that today's athletes, more so than their predecessors, enter college less academically well-prepared and with different goals and values than their classmates--differences that lead to different lives. They reveal that gender equity efforts have wrought large, sometimes unanticipated changes. And they show that the alumni appetite for winning teams is not--as schools often assume--insatiable. If a culprit emerges, it is the unquestioned spread of a changed athletic culture through the emulation of highly publicized teams by low-profile sports, of men's programs by women's, and of athletic powerhouses by small colleges.

Shulman and Bowen celebrate the benefits of collegiate sports, while identifying the subtle ways in which athletic intensification can pull even prestigious institutions from their missions. By examining how athletes and other graduates view The Game of Life--and how colleges shape society's view of what its rules should be--Bowen and Shulman go far beyond sports. They tell us about higher education today: the ways in which colleges set policies, reinforce or neglect their core mission, and send signals about what matters.


"It may be one of the most important books on higher education published in the last twenty years. It is certainly one of the most interesting."--Louis Menand, The New Yorker

"A provocative and important new book."--Robert Lipsyte, New York Times

"The conclusions are truly depressing and significant. . . . The Game of Life is the most important sports book written in years."--Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated

"A landmark study that should be welcomed by college presidents. . . These findings breathe new and potentially subversive life into old doubts about the role of highly competitive collegiate athletics. . ."--John Hoberman, The Wall Street Journal

"Makes a compelling case that athletics has utterly warped not only big colleges, but most of education, and in ways that go far beyond the usual allegations of diverting resources and spreading cynicism."--Marc Fisher, The Washington Post

"[The Game of Life] does not assign a catalog of sins to sports-minded colleges and universities as does Professor Sperber's book. But it argues compellingly that the influence of intercollegiate sports has greatly intensified in recent years."--William H. Honan, The New York Times

"The Shulman-Bowen data show that recruited athletes not only enter selective colleges with weaker academic records than their classmates as a whole, but that, once in college, they consistently underperform academically. . . .Moreover, they say, the academic standing of athletes relative to their classmates has deteriorated markedly in recent years."--Edward B. Fiske, New York Times

"A fascinating and important new book about the divergence of college sports and educational values."--Jane Eisner, Philadelphia Enquirer

"The Game of Life will have a profound effect on the national debate about professionalized college sports."--William C. Dowling, Newark Star Ledger

More reviews

Table of Contents

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by William G. Bowen:


Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback : $55.00 ISBN: 9780691096193

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback  £45.95 ISBN: 9780691096193

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 7/11/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Higher Education
    More Choices