Books about anything to do with sports, no matter the topic or which sport, in the 1970s always intrigues me and this one was no exception. Here is my review of "The Big Time"
“The Big Time: How the 1970’s Transformed Sports in America ” by Michael MacCambridge
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review: For anyone who followed sports during the decade of the 1970’s, they were certainly not the same at the end of the decade as they were at the beginning. This is true no matter which game, league or athletes one examined. This was also a reflection of the changes in American society and these are tied nicely together and told in wonderful prose in this book by Michael MacCambridge.
While many different sports and social topics are covered in this book, women’s sports and how they affected the feminist movement of the 1970’s is the most prominent theme in the book. The big events are covered, of course, such as the “battle of the sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, but there is much more to this topic. The best example has nothing to do with action on a playing surface but in board rooms.
The Association for Intercollegiate Atheletics for Women (AIAW) was founded in 1971 to govern women’s college sports. They were more about opportunity than for competition, and they believed Title IX, passed in 1972 and an important point mentioned several times in the book, would be the final hurdle to their goals. However, the NCAA, having other ideas, was incorporating those sports into their programs in order to comply with the law and they eventually took over all women’s programs. While it was sad for those AIAW members, it was important to note the progress made.
Similar write ups are in the book for other social issues such as racial equality and labor rights in various sports. It is noted how important the decision by arbitrator Peter Seitz to strike down baseball’s reserve clause had a ripple effect in all other sports when it came to free agency for players. Some sports adapted free agency more quickly than others and it didn’t come without significant labor strife, but that is also an important topic when it comes to 1970’s sports.
Of course, the text isn’t limited to just these types of topics. There are several passages about the actual games played as well and the variety of sports covered is tremendous. Just about any particular game you can think of that was played in front of spectators was covered. That is one of the best aspects of this book – the variety.
I wish to thank Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.