- Published September 6, 2016.
- Find it at Akashic’s site, Amazon, Indiebound, BookPeople, and Goodreads.
Football teams create playbooks, in which they draw up the plays they will use on the field. Coaches and players memorize these playbooks. Each individual play is given a name and can be communicated in a matter of seconds from sideline to field. If all goes well, the large amount of work that goes into a single play suddenly looks like a natural flow of bodies moving in unison that result in the movement of the ball down the field or the successful stop of the other team’s offense.
Playbooks are how teams work and why they win.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape is about a different kind of playbook. Over the last three years, this has been a hot topic as people are wondering aloud and often about the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, especially when it involves the football players on people’s favorite teams. This book explores that playbook, the one coaches, teams, universities, police, communities, the media, and fans seem to follow whenever a college football player is accused, charged, and/or convicted of sexual assault. It’s a deep dive into how different institutions — the NCAA, athletic departments, universities, the media — run the same plays over and over again when these stories break. If everyone runs their plays well, scrutiny dies down quickly, no institution ever has to change how it operates, and the evaporation of these cases into nothingness looks natural. In short, this playbook is why nothing ever changes.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct unpacks this societal playbook piece by piece, and not only advocates that we destroy the old plays, it suggests we replace them with ones that will force us to finally do something about this issue.
Excerpts from Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- “How to create a college football playbook that gets sexual consent right” at Dallas Morning News
- “How Racist and Sexist Myths Shape Our Reaction to Sexual Assault on Campus” at Truth Out
Reviews for Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- Review from the New York Times: “Not to reckon with Luther’s book would be an abdication not only of one’s moral faculty but also of one’s fandom. Luther is a graduate and still a fan of Florida State, which recently won a national championship behind the quarterback Jameis Winston — a Heisman Trophy winner and the subject of a rape accusation. (He denies it, and after an incomplete investigation there was no prosecution. Florida State later settled a lawsuit in the case.) Luther doesn’t just want to save future victims; she wants to save college football.”
- Review from Kirkus: “Highly relevant, hard-hitting, much-needed information that reveals the widespread existence of rape by sports players on college campuses.”
- Review from WBUR: “What distinguishes “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” from any number of books, articles, and documentaries about the subject is Luther’s emphasis through the latter half of her book on what could be done to promote change.”
- Review from Texas Observer
- Review from Rewire
- Review from Shakesville
- Review from The Current
- Review from Le Noir Auteur
- Review from The White Bronco
- Review from Misanthropester
Media for Unsportsmanlike Conduct:
- On “Best books of 2016” list at Boston Globe
- Sports Illustrated’s Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch
- Interview at Teen Vogue: “College Football and Rape Culture Interview With Jessica Luther”
- Interview at New York Magazine: “The Author Who Wants to Fix Sexual Assault in College Football”
- Panel at Texas Book Festival (video)
- KERA’s Think: “The Politics Of College Rape” (audio)
- USA Today’s Football Four Podcast
- Interview at espnW: “Writer Jessica Luther on sexual violence in college sports”
- Interview at Houston Chronicle: “Austin writer examines ‘the intersection of college football and sexual assault'”
- Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports podcast
- On “100 Must-Read Feminist Books” at Book Riot
- The Shadow League Sports Talk Podcast
- Interview at the Shadow League
- Interview at Street Roots News: “College football: a culture of fandom, athleticism – and sexual assault”
- Interview at Lenny Letter: “Unsportsmanlike Conduct”
- Interview with KUT: “Jessica Luther’s ‘Unsportsmanlike Conduct’ Tackles Sexual Assault in College Football”
- Interview with Elle: “Jessica Luther: “We Have a Terrible Understanding of Consent in Our Society””
- Interview with Think Progress: “One woman’s quest to end the sexual assault epidemic in college football”
- Interview at Broadly: “Keeping Score: The Woman Tracking Rape in College Football When No One Else Will”
- Interview at Playboy: “Sports Writer Jessica Luther is Taking on the Big-Time Institutions Perpetuating Campus Rape”
- Dallas Morning News: “Q&A: Jessica Luther on the ugly intersection of college football and violence against women”
- Q+A at the Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘We Write the Violence Out Completely’: A Journalist Says Rape Culture Is Systemic in College Football”
- On “Why You Should Hate Football (But Will Watch It Anyway)” list at Lithub
- Review at Misanthropester
- Interview on an episode of Bitch Magazine’s podcast, Popaganda: “Sports and Capitalism”
- Q+A at The Establishment: “Rewriting The Playbook: Jessica Luther Tackles Rape Culture In College Sports”
Coming in 2018, How To Love Sports When They Don’t Love You Back, co-authored with Kavitha A. Davidson (University of Texas Press).
How To Love Sports will be a guide for conflicted fans who want to keep watching the sports they love but who acknowledge the problems with the industry, addressing topics such as How to Watch Football When We Know About CTE, How to Cheer For Your Hockey Team When There’s An Accused Rapist On It, and How to Watch March Madness When You Know The Athletes Aren’t Getting Paid.
- The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future, edited by Alexandra Brodsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff (The Feminist Press). Find it at Kobo, Amazon, iBooks, and B&N.
- The Hunting Ground: The Inside Story of Sexual Assault on American College Campuses, edited by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. (Skyhorse Publishing). Chapter title: “Sports on Trial.” Find it at Amazon.
- BedPost Confessions: Real Sex. Real People. Real Confessions., edited by Mia Martina and Katherine Hale. Find it at Amazon.
- Football, Culture and Power, edited by David J. Leonard, Kimberly B. George, and Wade Davis. (Routledge Research in Sport, Culture, and Society). Chapter title: “A Societal Mirror & a Force for Change: The NFL & Its Response to Domestic Violence.” Find it at Routledge and Amazon.
- Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen (Algonquin Young Readers). Find it at Goodreads. Find it at Amazon and Indiebound.