The Sports Revolution
How Texas Changed the Culture of American Athletics
418 Pages, 43 b&w photos, 1 b&w illus.
Sales Date: March 23, 2021
In the 1960s and 1970s, America experienced a sports revolution. New professional sports franchises and leagues were established, new stadiums were built, football and basketball grew in popularity, and the proliferation of television enabled people across the country to support their favorite teams and athletes from the comfort of their homes. At the same time, the civil rights and feminist movements were reshaping the nation, broadening the boundaries of social and political participation. The Sports Revolution tells how these forces came together in the Lone Star State.
Tracing events from the end of Jim Crow to the 1980s, Frank Guridy chronicles the unlikely alliances that integrated professional and collegiate sports and launched women’s tennis. He explores the new forms of inclusion and exclusion that emerged during the era, including the role the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders played in defining womanhood in the age of second-wave feminism. Guridy explains how the sexual revolution, desegregation, and changing demographics played out both on and off the field as he recounts how the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers and how Mexican American fans and their support for the Spurs fostered a revival of professional basketball in San Antonio. Guridy argues that the catalysts for these changes were undone by the same forces of commercialization that set them in motion and reveals that, for better and for worse, Texas was at the center of America’s expanding political, economic, and emotional investments in sport.
The Sports Revolution is my kind of book: it connects the dots that form the sports picture we all take for granted, and it does it all in Texas, where sports and race, big business and big dreamers, have intersected to simultaneously transform what we watch and how we live. An extremely significant and long overdue book.
— Howard Bryant, author of The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of PatriotismDamn, I love this book! It is at once a comprehensive history of sports and a history of the inner workings of sport as an industry, as a source of entertainment, and as a huge factor in how media developed in the postwar period. At the center of the book are athletes: athletes who came of age bearing the legacies of Jim Crow and segregation and patriarchy while entangling in Black Power and civil rights and the second wave of feminism. A terrific writer and scholar, Frank Guridy brings to their stories a remarkable attention to detail, engaging play-by-play descriptions, and a gift for showing readers how small moments fit into the bigger picture. This is an essential contribution not just to Texas history and sport history but to American history.
— Amy Bass, Manhattanville College, author of One Goal: A Coach, a Team, and the Game That Brought a Divided Town TogetherIndoor sports played on plastic grass, wildcatter businessmen turned sports entrepreneurs, the dawn of professional athletics for women, a fraternal order of high-flying basketball players, the Iceman cometh in San Antonio, and cheerleaders revolt in Dallas—this was the sports scene in Texas from the 1960s to the 1980s, decades that radically rewove the American sports fabric and gave a boost to both the civil rights and feminist movements. In The Sports Revolution, Frank Guridy guides us through this defining and colorful era, on and off the field, introducing us to its equally distinctive characters along the way. An in-depth sports read with an entertaining dose of history.
— Michael Hurd, Author of Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas[Guridy] has a keen eye for turning and tipping points, and his lucid narrative serves his thesis well. Sports buffs will find Guridy’s explorations rewarding.
— Kirkus[An] illuminating survey...This is a fascinating and meticulously researched gem for sports buffs.
— Publishers WeeklyA remarkable look at how the intersection of resistance movements and Texas athletics changed the USA forever.
— The Nation's "Edge of Sports"Guridy makes a case that the Texas sports revolution of the sixties and seventies was every bit as history-making as Jackie Robinson’s impact on baseball and post–World War II America, or the impact on both sports and popular culture of such contemporary athletes as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams...While any work of history is also meant to say something about the present moment, this book feels especially timely.
— Texas MonthlyA fascinating look at the game-changers and trendsetters, on and off the field, who not only made Texas great but helped build the American sports landscape...History is never boring. Sports history is even better. And as you might imagine, Texas sports history is bigger and better. Guridy’s effort is worthy of applause.
— Houston Chronicle[The Sports Revolution] is a book that looks at the different impacts sports can have: 'on a region’s political economy; on the country’s popular culture; on the ways manhood, womanhood, whiteness, blackness, and social belonging were understood and reimagined.' These threads are all engagingly and intelligently brought together throughout...At the end of each chapter, readers are kept wanting more, which speaks to how engagingly these stories are told. Yet never does Guridy exchange insight for breeziness...The Sports Revolution is...a prompt for readers to more fully consider what it means to fight for justice both on and on the court, and how to more thoughtfully engage in those battles today.
— FanSidedUsing the exuberant terminology of the times combined with his active writing style, Guridy holds his readers’ attentions with descriptions of key games and players, as well as negotiations and financiers...As Guridy reveals, Texas, and Texans like Lamar Hunt, Tom Landry, Don Meredith, Tom Vandergriff, and Nancy Richey, did have important roles in the evolution of sports during the mid-to-late twentieth century...[The Sports Revolution is a] well-written, thought-provoking examination of the topic...Fans of Texas athletics and other sports will find the book an informative source.
— Southwestern Historical Quarterly[A] wonderful book...[Guridy's] book is always insightful and interesting. But his examination of the intersection of race and economics in the emergence of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs is particularly strong, as is a chapter examining the emergence of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders as a national phenomenon. In a world where sports is again undergoing a transformation, The Sports Revolution offers a valuable lens through which to view both the dramatic changes of the 1970s and those so prominent in today's society.
— New Books in SportsA needed, readable, and analytical perspective on sport in Texas mainly during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s...Alongside insightful evaluations of the big movers and shakers of Texas sport during the era, such as Lamar Hunt, Roy Hofheinz, and Darrell Royal, Guridy integrates the troubling experiences of race and gender from the racial integration of the Southwest Conference at Southern Methodist University in the 1960s to the famed 'Battle of the Sexes' tennis match in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in Houston. Specialists and non-specialists in sport history should find this book rewarding.
— CHOICEGuridy, utilizing a nice combination of secondary and primary source material, provides a very interesting and insightful analysis of sports in Texas and, by extension, in American culture more generally...[The Sports Revolution] is a nicely written, compelling, and thoughtful book that provides an awareness of and appreciation for the changing nature of sports in Texas specifically and American culture more broadly. I expect it to have a long shelf life and to be of interest to those who want to learn more specifics about the interconnection between sports and society.
— Journal of Southern HistoryFrom the inclusion of black and women athletes to the unlikely partnerships between Texas’s elite businesspeople with college and professional sporting figures, The Sports Revolution presents sport as a distinctive venue in the formation of Texas as a catalyst for change, following Jim Crow segregation...The Sports Revolution allows scholars and students from various disciplines, such as communication and urban studies, the opportunity to understand Texas’s place in the center of the sports world following Jim Crow segregation, by illustrating how Texas was an impetus for social change amid the everchanging landscape of sports. By highlighting the increased profitability of sports, and new technologies in sports, Guridy expertly connects Texas with communication and social change and depicts Texas as revolutionary in the transformation of culture and sport throughout the United States.
— Journal of Popular CultureWritten accessibly, Guridy’s book is rich with the personal stories of key figures in Texas sports. His use of sport magazines and local newspapers enables him to bring to the surface not only the scores of games but also how local citizens in Texas perceived the sports revolution that was occurring at the same time as the mid-twentieth-century social revolution. This is a welcome addition to the literature of sports history, Texas history, and civil rights history.
— Journal of American History[The Sports Revolution] offers fans the genesis of big-time sports and how events in Texas fundamentally altered sports for the better. Guridy’s book adds value to the historiography of sports history through the lens of civil rights, feminism, and the sexual revolution. Women’s studies scholars and Texas historians would benefit greatly by adding this book to their list.
— Journal of Sport History