PLAYING TO WIN Turns 3 (and 4!)

It has been almost exactly three years since Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture was released. And people continue to read it, which is definitely an amazing feeling. In fact, sales are up this year! Mostly this is thanks to professors assigning the book/excerpts in classes, and I can tell you that […]

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Books Are Living Things: Playing to Win continues to spark conversation

As my friend and scholar/writer Margarita Mooney likes to say, “Books have long lives.” While Playing to Win is still less than a year old, I can see how this is true as the book continues to inspire questions, dialogue, and conversations in a variety of settings. In the past two months I’ve been lucky […]

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It’s the Official Publication Day for PLAYING TO WIN: RAISING CHILDREN IN A COMPETITIVE CULTURE

Well, it’s here. The culmination of years of research, writing, and revising. Everyone can now buy my book at a variety of outlets and in a variety of ways. I even got to celebrate with friends and sociologists in NYC at my official book launch party a few weeks ago (see pictures here). Oh, and […]

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Reflections on Preview of Playing to Win from The Atlantic: Soccer Isn’t for Girly-Girls?

For a writer there is no greater feeling than people reading your work, sharing it, and thinking about it. I got a great taste of that feeling earlier this week when part of Chapter 4 of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture was excerpted at The Atlantic. The full title of Chapter […]

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Pint-Sized Phenoms: Creating and Destroying While Setting Records

For the most part, Guan Tianlang, had a pretty good month. At 14 not only is he the youngest player *ever* to participate in the Masters, but he also was the only amateur to make the cut, earning him additional coverage (which thankfully wasn’t overshadowed by the latest Tiger Woods scandal). While Tianlang did have […]

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My Review of Brooklyn Castle (originally posted on The Huffington Post Entertainment)

It’s always great fun to see visual depictions and analysis of activities I’ve studied. Unlike Dance Moms, the drama in the recent documentary Brooklyn Castle isn’t manufactured. It brings an important story, and activity, to a broader audience– in a way not done since the 1993 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. Below is my review […]

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Triumph and Tragedy in Scholastic Chess

I have a soft spot for scholastic chess. In 2005 I started studying chess as part of my dissertation research (which is forthcoming as Playing to Win: Raising Kids in a Competitive Culture). One of the things I loved the most about the chess scene is the diversity of people who meet and engage over […]

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Bingo-Bango-Bongo: A Review of Meg Wolitzer’s The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

I admit that I am a Scrabble tournament virgin. I’ve only ever seen a Scrabble tournament while watching the documentary Word Wars, and I’ve read about this particular subculture in Stefan Fatsis’ delighful Word Freak.  But in many ways the Scrabble tournament world doesn’t seem to differ too much from its intellectual cousins, or “sports […]

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Creating Competitive Kid Capital… Through Bridge?

Whenever children participate in activities, including unsupervised play or organized non-competitive activities, they acquire skills through socialization. This is also true of participation in organized activities which do not have an explicitly competitive element, as I have argued before. But many activities that were previously non-competitive have been transformed from environments that only emphasized learning […]

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Brains vs. Beauty: Considering Kids’ Participation in Beauty Pageants, Chess, and Football

In response to yesterday’s post on child beauty pageants in Australia (or not) I received a variety of thoughtful comments. One of them was from The Family Factor who wrote,  So what happens to the girls’ views of the audience when they realize the[y] did not cut it? The idea that outward appearance is what […]

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