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Michael Sokolove is a
contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, as well
as the author of two previous books, The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and The Boys of Crenshaw and
Hustle: The Myth, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose.
He has appeared on numerous national television and radio news
shows, including ABC's Good Morning America and Prime Time
Outside the Lines, and CNN's Paula Zahn Now. He has been a
guest on the National Public Radio shows Fresh Air, The
Tavis Smiley Show, and Only a Game.
At the New York Times Magazine,
and previously with the Sunday magazine of the Philadelphia
Inquirer, he has written on wide range of topics -– from life in
inner-city America, to eco-terrorism, to presidential politics, to
the question of whether would-be assassin John Hinckley should go
free. Sokolove's specialty has been the sociology and culture of
sports, and he has done some of the most important and provocative
writing about sports today.
In December 2002, his cover story in the New York Times Magazine
("Football is A
Sucker's Game") showed how one virtually unknown university, the
University of South Florida, was pouring tens of millions of dollars
into football to "put itself on the map." The story exposed the
astronomical financial and cultural costs of big-time college
football, and it foreshadowed much of what was soon to occur in
college sports. "Universities run from conference to conference,
chasing richer TV deals; coaches from school to school, chasing
cash," the story said. "It's a game of mergers and acquisitions -–
of running out on your partners before they run out on you." Six
months after the story appeared, the University of Miami, Virginia
Tech and Boston College bolted from the Big East Conference, setting
off a chain reaction in other conferences and throwing the whole
college sports landscape into chaos.
In Sokolove's January 2003 cover story
in the New York Times Magazine ("In
Pursuit of Doped Excellence"), he revealed the future of
performance enhancement in sports -– genetic manipulation -– by
visiting a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania where mice
had been genetically altered to have high levels of IGF-1, a growth
factor. "They were built like cattle, with thick necks and big
haunches," he wrote. "They belonged in some kind of mouse rodeo."
Sokolove wrote that Major League Baseball, in terms of drug
cheating, was the equivalent of "East Germany in the 1980s: a
frontier." Two days after this story appeared, President Bush, in
his State of the Union message, decried the use of performance
enhancement in sports and called specifically on baseball to take
Sokolove's latest work, The Ticket Out:
Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw, displays the
same kind of distinctive writing about sports -– combining
on-the-ground reporting and evocative story-telling with fresh
thinking and new insights. By looking at one team, the 1979 Crenshaw
High Cougars, the greatest assemblage of talent in the history of
high school baseball, Sokolove explores the myth that sports is the
ticket out of the inner city.
Sokolove lives in Bethesda, Md., with
his wife Ann Gerhart, a writer for the Washington Post, and their
three children, Sara, Sofia, and Bill.