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Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed,…

Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of… (edition 2000)

by Dan Wetzel, Don Yaeger

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Explosive and controversial, this expos uncovers the exploitation of college, high school, and even junior high basketball players by the billion-dollar atheltic shoe companies competing for national endorsements. photo insert.
Title:Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth
Authors:Dan Wetzel
Other authors:Don Yaeger
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2000), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America's Youth by Dan Wetzel



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As I never read about anything but architecture-related crap, and I sort of despise basketball with all my heart, it was inevitable that I would finally get around to reading Sole Influence, the story of shoe-empire corruption of our most accessible game if you’re abnormally tall. It’s a bewildering exposé. I figured the Universities were bought and sold as every football player has so many swooshes caked on, one immediately thinks of Tammy Faye Baker’s makeup. What’s disturbing is the fairly recent trend of purchasing High Schools and AAU teams, and even corporate “sponsorships” at the Jr High level.

Like any realm in US society, amateur basketball hosts plenty of characters with which to extract closet bones. My favorite was the AAU coach, Myron Piggie, who was heavily sponsored by Nike (who’s spokesman also proudly boasted that they stood behind Tanya Harding…hopefully Phelps has them as a forgiving source of income). You see, a few years before his basketball days, this little Piggie sold crack. He sold small quantities a few times to an undercover DEA agent and they finally got him on the big one (2 ounces + automatically means 10 years minimum). However, Piggie managed to slip away (car spinning out on an agent’s foot) and they weren’t able to get him until a couple days later. Thus 10 years hard time became 4 months in a treatment center. Also acquiring five years parole, he eventually violated said parole by shooting a bunch of bullets at two police officers. They immediately apprehended him and our crack judicial system [pardon the pun] allowed five felony counts to be reduced to one, putting this almost cop-killer behind bars for ONE WHOLE YEAR. According to this Piggie, it went down like “the Lord wanted it to go.” A few years later he’s coaching teenagers and is on Nike’s payroll. The Lord obviously needs better planning – I mean if, anything, this Little Piggie should have become a State Senator!

Anyway, this book is well written and seems to be reasonably researched. There is the feeling that the authors are selectively exposing material that shores up their thesis, but the selection of interviewees does cover a wide range and this promotes a somewhat balanced presentation. I would certainly recommend this to anyone over 86 inches tall, but for my own sanity, I’m avoiding basketball books from here on out. ( )
  mjgrogan | Jul 17, 2009 |
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