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Rick Telander - Heaven Is a Playground

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Rick Telander is a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. He used to work for Sports Illustrated in 1995. Telander use to attend Northwestern University, where amongst his studies, he also played football. After graduating, he joined the Kansas City Chiefs football team. However, he didn't' make it past the first cut. So he pursued his career in journalism.

The main themes seen throughout the book are pretty noticeable. First off, unconventional sport agents/recruiters off the street, such as Rodney, have unique methods and sources of income. Let's take a deeper look into this theme. Rodney is by far the most energetic in your face character in this book. He is always looking for the next best ball player to take him under his wing. If he isn't out on the basketball however, he is out doing what he does best, wheeling and dealing. Rodney isn't out here selling dope, he is out scalping tickets for his majority of income. With the money he makes, he ironically seems to either bet it away in basketball, or help a kid make it to the next level in his basketball career. Our author oply questions the following:

-"I have been trying to determine exactly what it is he gets from all his wheeling and dealing, why he works so hard finding downtrodden boys and sending them to schools, compiling massive phone and food bills in the process with no apparent recompense. Does he simply get money under the table for delivery? Is he looking for the one big apple to make him rich, or is it something more prestigious, that mythical "super-agent" job. Or is it simply goodwill?-Rodney the hyperthyroid samaritan in gym shoes." (Telander)

Another is corruption that took place in college basketball. The text shows a lot of different examples here. Obviously, all from the most obnoxiously egotistical character, Fly Williams:

-"He says we got money at Peay!" screams Fly. "Tell him Danny, we got nothing. Going to coach for cash was like Jesus Christ to summon the devil out of hell!"

-"You have to cheat to win, to get to the Final Four. Give me a satchel of money and I'll get the best players in the country."

And as the last theme, black ball players seeking to go out into college and out of the ghetto, only to feel extremely uncomfortable and drop out at the first sign of queasiness. Continuous times throughout the book you see someone actually rise out of the ghetto and look like they are going forward in their life, then a semester later they are right back where they started. Going from the streets into a college environment is a huge jump, and if you aren't mentally prepared, the school work will run you right over. Here are some examples of what I found:

-"A lot of players Rodney helps return home quickly, burned out. Some like Mark Harris, who went to the school in Michigan,

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