5 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Marci S. (MarciNYC) reviewed The Last Amateurs : Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball on
Helpful Score: 2
I did enjoy this book, but not nearly as much as the other Feinstein books I've read (Caddy for Life, A Season on the Brink) previously. I found this difficult at times to follow, ping-ponging back and forth between schools and players, but in the end a worthwhile read, especially for the college basketball fan.
If there's any doubt about John Feinstein being one of sport's true believers, The Last Amateurs readily dispels it. After years of smartly dissecting our games at their highest levels in bestsellers like The Majors, A Good Walk Spoiled, and A Season on the Brink, he returns to dissecting our games at their purest level, ground he first staked out quite stirringly in A Civil War, his chronicle of Army-Navy football.
In The Last Amateurs, he mines the 1999-2000 season of Patriot League basketball. Given the high-stakes, high-profile, and often dirty world of college hoops these days, Feinstein comes up with a remarkably refreshing place to visit, a sporting environment short on scandals, prima donnas, and sneaker contracts, but long on a pure passion for the game that complements achievement in the classroom. In the league's seven schools--Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, Colgate, Holy Cross, Army, and Navy--academics come first, the hardwood second. These are campuses populated by students who happen to be athletes, not athletes stopping off on the way to lucrative careers in professional sports. Indeed, these are young athletes who have their post-college focus on the rest of their lives, not the NBA. Sports, for them, builds character, not bank accounts.
Still, the Patriot League is a Division I conference, with its champion earning an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. It takes the games seriously--often, as Feinstein reveals, heartbreakingly so--even if it doesn't necessarily play to ACC, SEC, Big 10, and Pac-10 standards. Feinstein's interviewing, skillful as ever, brings the players, coaches, and administrators of the colleges in this league to full form, making The Last Amateurs a rarity among sports books--a smart volume about smart people with their heads and priorities pointed in the right direction. Like the conference itself, it's in a league of its own.
Book is slightly dated now but still an insightful read about the college teams that play in the Patriot League. Nice to read about players who are true student athletes who give so much to the game with no expectation of glory.
John Feinstein is one of the very best writers of sport in America. He knows the games and has a real feel for the people in it. Stories of basketball in the smaller colleges that - - guys that upset the big boys in the first round at the NCAA March Madness.