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Brian Kilmeade's Games Do Count Better Than Most Fox Books

Reported by Judy - July 13, 2005

As books by Fox News personalities go, Brian Kilmeade's The Games Do Count, is not a bad book. But Kilmeade, a former sports reporter turned morning show co-host for Fox and Friends, wrote this book in about the same way Tom Sawyer painted that fence.

By that I mean, others did most of the work while Kilmeade takes the credit -- and royalties. Kilmeade lined up 71 well-known people (he calls them "America's best and brightest" but I won't put E.D. Hill in that category) to talk about what participating in organized sports has meant to them.

After that, it's hard to tell what Kilmeade actually did. He says he interviewed the individuals and asked them questions. But the entries are not presented as transcripts of interviews. Rather, they look like individual essays. Either each person was able to speak flawlessly for 15 minutes, or Kilmeade did some editing of their comments without indicating something was left out. That only matters if you think journalists should be honest about that they do.

Regardless of how the entries were compiled, some stand out. Among the most interesting is that of George Will, who quipped, "I accept this honor for right fielders everywhere," upon being inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Henry Kissinger has an interesting story to tell about playing soccer on an all-Jewish team in Nazi Germany. He ends with an anecdote from the immediate post-war era, when U.S. occupation troops broke up a German mob trying to beat up the referee in a soccer match. "So that's the democracy you guys are bringing us!" exclaimed one irate fan as the troops protected the offending ref.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz also has a good yarn, and Ron Reagan manages to make his dad sound likeable. A special touch was the collection of four entries about the men who stormed the cockpit of Flight 93 on 9/11 to keep it from crashing into the White House or Congress. On the flip side, Oliver North's was as trite as a C-minus student's term paper.

Overall, the messages of each individual are about what you would expect: playing sports teaches teamwork, how to be a good winner or loser, the importance of hard work, how to bounce back after failure, self-confidence, and on and on. If nothing else, the book makes an excellent case for why that femi-Nazi Title IX, mandating equal opportunities for girls and women in school and college sports, should be preserved. If sports participation really has all these great side-benefits, don't we want that for our daughters as well as our sons?

The hardest part of doing this book was picking the individuals to talk about sports. Most of the 71 are drawn from the media, politics, big business, and Hollywood. The selections bear the mark of Fox News. Of the 15 media, 9 work at Fox, including boss Roger Ailes. Of the 20 politicians, 15 are Republicans. Three Republican ex-presidents, plus the current one, are represented, but neither Democrat Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton was included. Fair and balanced all the way.

Regan Books was the publisher, and in the acknowledgements, Kilmeade thanks a slew of people from the publishing company, including Judith Regan, Cal Morgan, Cassie Jones, Anna Bliss, Marissa Shalfi, and Liz Grotyohann for various tasks. None, apparently, was the proofreader, and if they were, Kilmeade should not be thanking them. The book is marred by more dropped words, duplicated phrases, and misspellings than I have seen in a professionally published book in a long time.

Some examples: "I was planning to go to go to Miami" (p. 124); "but that they after" (p. 171); "I was never going fail again" (p. 196); "It was at that moment changed my life" (p. 197); "You need to be able to be able to … " (p. 237); "I was big fish in a small pond" and "I was late bloomer" (p. 249); "But I since I didn’t" (p. 250); "I was good athlete" (p. 266), and "The questions always asked me is …" (p. 278). We all make mistakes, but most publishers make more of an effort to catch the typos.

If sports teaches character, then talking about sports may sometimes reveal character. Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes talked about playing in a staff game when he was at NBC. He got a hit and was racing toward home when he saw the ball on the way to the catcher "so I just lowered my head and took the guy completely out. He dropped the ball, and I scored. They had to carry the guy off the field, and I thought, Geez, I feel really bad. But then I thought, Well, I don't feel that bad. I mean, I scored. And he's not dead, so were okay here."

That's sportsmanship, Fox News style.

On advantage of working for Fox News is that any book you write is endlessly promoted on the channel and their web page. Despite that promotion, publisher's overstocks of this book, published in 2004 and sold for $24.95, is available for less than $6 on various internet sites. If you really want to read it, read the entries that interest you while standing in the aisle at your favorite book store and save your money. Kilmeade didn't work hard enough to earn royalties.

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