The immense popularity of sports in America has at least this consolation for harried teachers: it offers their students a high-interest avenue for reading, writing, and research. But to the young, yesterday's stars may be has-beens. Pare profiles 80 athletes (only 15 of them women) who meet one or more of the following criteria: still active or recently retired from professional or amateur sports, a top performer in the sport, or a role model who has hurdled physical or societal constraints to reach the top. Although athletes from 17 sports are featured, 43 of the 80 represent the big-three American spectator sports: baseball, basketball, and football. Auto racing, bicycle racing, golf, gymnastics, horse racing, skiing, soccer, speed skating, and swimming are represented by only one or two athletes each; boxing, figure skating, hockey, tennis, and track and field are represented by three to nine athletes each. Arthur Ashe is the only deceased athlete profiled. This highly selective work, then, focuses on those who are still sports newsmakers
Each alphabetically arranged entry has two main sections: one "focusing on the athlete's early life and motivations," followed by one highlighting the career. The writing style of this and other Gale/UXL imprints is clear, lively, and geared to "advanced elementary, middle school and lower achieving high school students." Each entry also features a quick-reference "Scoreboard" box, high-interest sidebar boxes, one or more black-and-white photographs, and (in most cases) an address where the athlete can be contacted. The set begins with a table of contents organized both alphabetically and by sport; it ends with a bibliography of further reading for each star and an index
The 14-volume "Lincoln Library of Sports Stars" (6th ed., Frontier, 1993), also geared to middle-schoolers, has several times the number of entries and covers athletes from far more sports; its coverage extends throughout the twentieth century. The 23-volume "Great Athletes: The Twentieth Century" (Salem, 1992-94) covers more than 800 athletes in the U.S. and abroad. "Sports Stars", however, is recommended for school libraries as an inexpensive and readable source on contemporary athletes.