“Provacative… Terrific Stories.” - The New YOrker


It started, as most business deals do, with a handshake.

In 1960, a Cleveland lawyer named Mark McCormack convinced a golfer named Arnold Palmer to sign with him. McCormack simply believed that the best athletes had more commercial value than they were being paid for—and he was right. Within a few years, he raised Palmer’s annual income from $5,000 to $500,000, and forever changed the landscape of the sports industry, transforming it from a form of entertainment to a profitable and fully functioning system of its own.

Players features landmark moments, including the multiyear battle to free Palmer from a bad deal with the Wilson Sporting Goods Company; the 1973 Wimbledon boycott, when eighty-one of the top tennis players in the world protested the suspension of Nikola Pilic; baseball pitcher Catfish Hunter’s battle to become MLB’s first free agent; and how NFL executives transformed pro football from a commercial dud to the greatest show on earth.

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Could not be more timely . . . No part of the media and entertainment industry has seen a more substantial economic transformation than sports. . . . Mr. Futterman, a sportswriter for The Wall Street Journal, takes us on a half-century tour spanning a variety of widely recognized and lesser-known sports figures and competitions that have played roles in the industry’s development.
— New York Times
Masterful . . . A remarkable saga . . . Filled with insights not only into sports, but also into human nature . . . Downright thrilling.
— Dallas Morning News
The business of sports has been completely transformed over the course of my lifetime, and Players is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the beginnings of that revolution. I couldn’t put it down.
— Billy Bean
Provocative . . . There are also terrific stories.
— Louis Menand, The New Yorker
A complex tale, compellingly told . . . Players might be the best book about the business of sports since Moneyball.
— Grace Lichtenstein, The Millions
Players is an entertaining, illuminating read. . . . Futterman’s investigative research reveals insights and insider perspectives that even those highly knowledgeable in the sports featured will find informative, even intriguing.
— New York Journal of Books