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Publisher's Summary

When New York Times best-selling author and journalist Michael Lewis got involved in his kids’ local softball league, it all seemed so wholesome and simple. Ten years later, his family looked back to find that they had spent thousands of dollars - not to mention hours - and traveled thousands of miles in the service of a single sport.

All over America, families are investing blood, sweat, tears, and retirement savings in their children’s sports careers, all with the ultimate goal of…what exactly? A college scholarship? A professional contract? Simply the taste of victory?

Through the lens of the highly competitive world of girls’ softball, Lewis reveals the youth sports industrial complex that has arisen to aggressively monetize after-school pastimes. The major players aren’t the ones on the field - they’re the ones stripping the pockets of unwitting parents to the tune of billions of dollars a year, creating an arms race of amateur athletics and enabling the Varsity Blues scandal. So what’s in it for the parents - or, for that matter, the kids themselves? This from-the-bleachers portrait of our national obsession with youth sports explores the consequences of high-stakes play for families, communities, and the kids in the game.  

©2019 Michael Lewis (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

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What listeners say about Playing to Win

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Girl softball? Yes please!

Nobody writes about sports and money better than M. Lewis! This short book is no exception. And when the author reads the book to you, you can't ask for more!

1 person found this helpful

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Michael Lewis hits it out of the park again!

Exposing the youth industrial sports complex for what it really is. Well done Michael Lewis!

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A loving father and his child

A wonderful story from a thoughtful and loving father told in a way only Michael Lewis can. I was inspired by it a few weeks ago when I first heard it and now it resounds in the bottom of my soul. I have kids those ages and saw myself in it only with the caveat that I’m no Michael Lewis. This story ends beautifully but unfortunately it’s no longer. When I heard the news I felt as though it was family or a close friend. Thank you Michael for sharing the wonders of parenting Dixie with me, I am sure there is meaning in all this hard as it may be to endure. If anyone can find out what it is, is you.

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  • Brian Bray
  • 2020-10-15

Great Listen

Fascinating for everyone with children wondering why am I spending a small fortune and why am I so emotionally invested. I was able to listen to it in one sitting. Very interesting and informative.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Wesley Thompson
  • 2020-10-15

great for those of us starting into this

My 7yo son has just started into the wormhole of highly competitive youth baseball. I have learned so much in the past year and am constantly amazed at the amount of money I am spending on a 7yos "baseball career".
This was a great look at the future for me and has really gotten me to start thinking about how invested I want to be.
great read

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lyricdancer
  • 2020-10-25

Delightful of you have softball daughters.

I laughed out loud. I love Micheal Lewis' writing. I finished it in one listen.

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  • Jason Wild
  • 2020-10-25

An absolute must read!

At first I was not sure about this book from the initial review, however, after a quick download and only a few moments into it I was hooked and firmly interested in the storyline and amused with the narrative of various characters. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who has been putting it off due to the initial reviews or comments on this book. I’m sure before it’s finished you’re going to have a smile on your face and even have a few laughs as well.

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  • Brad
  • 2020-10-23

Just right

A sharp slice of today which cuts deep and smart. Brandishing self awareness, Mr. Lewis’ keen perspective reaches broadly and personally at the same time. And though acclaimed as a mere author, I was impressed with his reading. Bravo!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sires
  • 2020-10-18

Addresses the Inequities of Youth Sports

I've actually watched a couple of families struggle through this. one in the 90s and one in the 2010s. Now I finally understand what they were trying to do. Lewis is so good at explaining this kind of stuff. I ended up a little sad for even parents who had "won".

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-02-05

Great if you're really interested in softball

In the words of Homer Simpson, there's no lesson to this story, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.

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  • Ben Vella
  • 2020-11-29

Who knew?

The niche of girls sports and the money in it is fascinating and scary. Michael Lewis brings this world to life with the combination of personal experience, stats and research.
Worth the time.

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  • Brian Kooperman
  • 2020-11-17

Fascinating First Hand Account of the Life of a Sports Dad

Michael Lewis never disappoints. Pretty sure I’ve read every single one of his books, and this one is definitely in my top three. Lewis has a keen talent for taking any subject and breaking it down by providing an angle on a topic that is unique, intelligent, and thought provoking.

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  • Oscar H.
  • 2020-11-08

Lewis is amazing!

This is a great short read on youth sports. I do not have children, but have heard rumors about how different things are, compared to when we were kids. This book has more personal flavor than most of Lewis' work and paints a vivid and fascinating picture of parenting kids, particularly girls, decades after Title 9.

1 person found this helpful