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The Big Time

By: Michael MacCambridge
Narrated by: Sean Runnette
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Publisher's Summary

A captivating chronicle of the pivotal decade in American sports, when the games invaded prime time, and sports moved from the margins to the mainstream of American culture.

Every decade brings change, but as Michael MacCambridge chronicles in The Big Time, no decade in American sports history featured such convulsive cultural shifts as the 1970s. So many things happened during the decade—the move of sports into prime-time television, the beginning of athletes’ gaining a sense of autonomy for their own careers, integration becoming—at least within sports—more of the rule than the exception, and the social revolution that brought females more decisively into sports, as athletes, coaches, executives, and spectators. More than politicians, musicians or actors, the decade in America was defined by its most exemplary athletes. The sweeping changes in the decade could be seen in the collective experience of Billie Jean King and Muhammad Ali, Henry Aaron and Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Joe Greene, Jack Nicklaus and Chris Evert, among others, who redefined the role of athletes and athletics in American culture. The Seventies witnessed the emergence of spectator sports as an ever-expanding mainstream phenomenon, as well as dramatic changes in the way athletes were paid, portrayed, and packaged.

In tracing the epic narrative of how American sports was transformed in the Seventies, a larger story emerges: of how America itself changed, and how spectator sports moved decisively on a trajectory toward what it has become today, the last truly “big tent” in American culture.

©2023 Michael MacCambridge (P)2023 Grand Central Publishing
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Michael MacCambridge is one of America’s finest chroniclers and when he told me he was turning his eye to the 1970s, the decade of my childhood, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. He delivers exactly what I hoped he would, a book brimming with nostalgia and fun, filled with all the marvelous names that shaped my life as a sports fan as well as shaping sports as we now know them.”—Joe Posnanski, bestselling author of The Baseball 100

“If you remember how great sports were in those days, The Big Time will remind you, and if you doubt how great, this book will show you.”—Roy Blount, Jr., author, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load

“Michael MacCambridge’s The Big Time is a meticulously researched, beautifully written and wonderfully entertaining walk down memory lane. The ‘70s were such a fascinating decade in sports and culture, and this book brings all the characters and moments to life in riveting detail. We know that time travel doesn’t exist, but this book sure comes close.”—Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist and author of the best-selling Inside Edge

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  • Kevin
  • 04-11-2023

Good Effort But Missed Part of the Story

The author did incredible research for this book. He told a lot of stories and attempted to touch every part of sports during the 70s. He spent the most time on Title IX, which was appropriate. However, he did not quite capture the real impact of Title IX and did not show a real understanding of the true impact. He focused primarily on big time women's basketball programs to tell the Title IX story. He talked about their fight to capture part of those big athletic budgets at top football schools. Of course that did happen and is part of the story, but it is a very very small part. Probably only 5% of schools were in this category, and basketball is only one of probably a dozen sports where women's sports grew. The rest of Division 1, all of Division 2 and 3, as well as the NAIA were all ignored.....and what about the high schools? They all had to implement Title IX as well. Everyone except the very top of Division I colleges, on which the author exclusively focusses, had to implement Title IX without the benefit of TV money or much in the way of resources at all. He vilifies the male athletic directors for their resistance to Title IX. And yes, 99%+ of all ADs in the US were male at the time. What he did not mention is that in the 70s before women had really even attempted to administrate sports it was these male ADs that built women's sports out of nothing at every level, and often with little to no extra resources. They had to find coaches, facilities, administrators, officials, equipment, etc... They also had to find the athletes. Women were not lined up to join the teams. They were recruited by these male ADs and coaches out of PE classes, dorms, and the classroom. At the top levels where big football tv money was going to go to women's programs there were some ADs that pushed back when they shouldn't have. However, at all other levels there was no money to protect and the pushback was not the same. In fact, these ADs and administrators typically loved to build these programs. It was at these non elite D1 levels that title nine effected 95% of all women athletes. These stories were not told. And what about all of the other women's sports? The basketball bias is very strong. Other than tennis, the other sports were ignored by the author much like women's athletics was ignored before Title IX. One of the big stories in women's sports in the first 20-30 after Title IX was the disproportionate amount of resources going to women's basketball. The other sports have fought an uphill battle ever since to get an appropriate share of the resources.

Also, prepare to hear a lot of the University of Texas. I am not sure why. The author goes on deep dives into UT sports, but the stories don't seem to go anywhere, be very important, or contribute to the story.

I do not mean to be critical in any way. I am simply furthering the discussion the author did a great job of starting. If you love sports, this book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it.

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  • Mr Paul Michael Hopkins
  • 09-02-2024

Interesting but a bit long

I wanted to really like it and did in long sections. But for me, the narrators voice started to wear on me after long periods, and given it’s 18 hours, happens a fair bit.
Subjects jumped around the full spectrum which is comprehensive but you find yourself listening in on things of interest, but zoning out on others. Worth a try.

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