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Sports historian at UNR authors ‘Sports in American Life’
by Tribune Staff
Mar 25, 2012 | 2013 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo - Sports historian Richard Davies, a history professor emeritus who teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno, has published a second edition of his textbook “Sports in American Life: A History.”
Courtesy Photo - Sports historian Richard Davies, a history professor emeritus who teaches at the University of Nevada, Reno, has published a second edition of his textbook “Sports in American Life: A History.”
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RENO — When Richard Davies began teaching History of American Sports at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1994, he was one of the first to offer sports as a way to bring American history and pop culture to life in the classroom.

Now, the prolific author and often-quoted sports historian’s “Sports in American Life: A History” (2007) textbook is used in many of about 300 such courses offered across the country. Davies has authored and released a second edition with updated information on sports statistics, issues and figures such as Barry Bonds and Tiger Woods, an expanded discussion of women’s sports and an increasingly skeptical view of college sports.  

One might expect a more optimistic view from the distinguished history professor emeritus who has spent much of his career researching the history of sports in America and using it as a way to teach students about important issues such as political movements, civil rights and women’s rights. However, the hard-working, disciplined, yet wryly humorous and popular instructor and commentator isn’t one to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. 

“Really, my fandom has decreased dramatically after researching all of this,” he said, continuing to rattle off a number of reasons for his views, including “the East Coast bias with ESPN and one-third of all televisions being in the East,” “the good-old-boy network where the bowl directors are mostly former coaches,” “the 55 major ‘BCS’ universities that control the revenues for their own benefit” and his view that “the NCAA is ‘like a cartel’.” 

Davies added that he was, however, pleased that UNR administrations have “kept our athletic program in a reasonable perspective without excessive expenditures or serious violations of NCAA policies.” He said he was also pleased that nationally, women’s sports at the college level have actually excelled over the past 40 years, due to the passage of Title IX in 1972, a federally mandated push for greater equity between men’s and women’s athletics programs at universities. 

“It has actually been quite successful,” he said, citing the rise of collegiate women’s basketball. “There are 15 to 20 collegiate women’s basketball teams that actually pay for themselves now, and other successes I researched and discussed in the book.” 

Davies has written, edited or co-edited more than 15 works during his 50 years of research and teaching, and is currently working on a history of boxing in Nevada.
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