Book Reviews

Common Enemies

Book review at Knup Sports

“Common Enemies” is  book written by Thomas F. Schaller  about how racial overtones changed the landscape of college sports. The full tittle of the book is:  “Common Enemies: Georgetown Basketball, Miami Football and the Racial Transformation of College Sports”

The book intertwines two of the most successful college sports teams of the 1980’s, the Miami University football team and the basketball team of Georgetown University.

They dominated the their sport and were annual national championship contenders.Each had their unique style often referred to later in history as the “Black style”. This persona aggravated the world of collegiate sports.

It was this success that brought on this excellent book.

The coaches involved in this are John Thompson from Georgetown and Jimmy Johnson of the Miami Hurricanes. The are the main characters in the book.

Jimmy Johnson entered Miami when head coach Howard Schnellenberger left after garnering the national championship in the early 80’s, Johnson began the black recruitment process at Miami.

John Thompson was in the habit of challenging the establishment in the college basketball hierarchy by pushing the standards that were considered acceptable at that time.  He stressed education along with acceptable practices as a member of the team. Players were not allowed to freely talk to the media.

John Thompson was a disciplinarian,mentor, coach and a strong recruiter of Black athletes. He emphasized graduation as an important milestone.

Coach Jimmy Johnson did some things differently as he allowed his players o express themselves, especially on the field . That, in its self. led to criticism from others in the collegiate hierarchy world, Celebrations were encouraged, even though many felt they wee excessive and were poor examples of sportsmanship.Many sportswriters wrote that the program was spiraling out of control as the Hurricanes thought nothing of running up the score. Johnson continued to win.

This change in the norms led to many groups of people related “bad boys” to all Black teams. Many times they were just plain more talented. Their styles have led to huge business. From jackets to hats to “bling” chains, it is huge sellers in the business world,

This is a good book for sports readers to put on the shelf and for historians to understand how we got to this point. Read this book and you won’t be disappointed.



Check out more than a hundred book reviews we have done before this one.

Thank you to the Univ. of Nebraska Press for the book and to allow me the freedom to make a fair and hones book review.




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