Sins of the Tribe
by Mark A. Salter
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Pub Date 12 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 01 Aug 2022
Greenleaf Book Group, Greenleaf Book Group Press
Sins of the Tribe, by author Mark A. Salter, explores the impact of intense tribalism and its resulting dehumanization in a setting that’s popular, wildly flawed, and hiding in plain sight: college football. Wally Hestia is on top of the world when he becomes a member of the Bastille University Tribe football team, a six-time national champion powerhouse with a pristine reputation and a nationwide following. But he’s only on the team as the holder for his mentally deficient brother, Henry, a kicking prodigy and the person who gives Wally purpose. But over time, Wally sees morality trampled for the larger cause of tribal dominance. When Wally finds himself in opposition to Bastille to the point where he and Henry are in danger, he must choose between the adulation of the larger tribe or embrace the idyllic virtues Bastille had draped itself in, even if it means losing everything.
Sins of the Tribe explores these hard truths: morality is subordinate to tribalism and the need for domination through violent proxies is real. Sins of the Tribe will appeal to football fans as well as fans of fiction.
“I found Sins of the Tribe to be very troubling, but it was too stimulating to put down.”
—Bill Parcells, winner of Super Bowls XXI and XXV; inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013
“In a mesmerizing story of innocence, betrayal, and courage, Mark A. Salter takes us inside the world of college football as seen through the eyes of a ‘true believer,’ a member of an exclusive tribe, who begins to question the human costs such a tribe demands of everyone it touches. Whether or not you follow football or even know the rules of the game, Sins of the Tribe is an amazing read, and its characters will stay with you long after you put the book down.”
—Deborah Feyerick, retired journalist; 20-year CNN National Correspondent
“In Sins of the Tribe, Mark A. Salter captures the good, the bad and the ugly of big-time college football. It brought me back to my college days! Kudos to Mark!”
—William Ard, College Football: Wake Forest Demon Deacons 1977–1980, All-American 1980, inducted into the Wake Forest Sports Hall of Fame in 1993; NFL: New York Giants 1981–1988, winner of Super Bowl XXI, Green Bay Packers 1989–1991
“From the opening scene, Mark A. Salter paints a vivid picture that's not always pretty while delivering hard truths about college football and the undeniable consequences of its tribalism.”
—Nunyo Demasio, best-selling author and award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN: The Magazine
“Sins of the Tribe is an absolutely fantastic read. I was captivated from the first chapter. The author skillfully weaves lessons in leadership, courage, and integrity throughout the tribal environment, even as it grows increasingly hostile. This story depicts the type of episodes many people have witnessed, in a clever, thoughtful, and engaging manner. I highly recommend it.”
—Shawn Henry, President, services division and chief security officer, CrowdStrike; former executive assistant director, FBI; cyber security and national security analyst, contributor, and consultant, NBC News
“The more I read Sins of the Tribe, the more I realized tribalism has been the driving force at the core of all my football experiences. I felt the authenticity with each chapter, it’s the closest you can get to an actual big-time college football experience without actually lacing them up. Want to experience D1 football? Read this book!”
—Terry Ray, College Football: Oklahoma Sooners 1988–1991; NFL: Atlanta Falcons 1992, New England Patriots 1993–1996, played in Super Bowl XXXI; CFL: Edmonton Eskimos 1999–2003, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2004; CFL All-Star 2000, 2001
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Average rating from 19 members
Excellent look at the innards of big-time college football. Readers will, no doubt, feel a range of emotions as they read about the fights and struggles to produce a winning program.
The title of this book refers most directly to the ambience and football program of the fictional Bastille university om the southern U.S. While the football content is broadly and accurately presented, yhe true tribalism portrayed is that of the organising principle of human society. The characters of the main actors Wally, Henry, Dion and Samanth Samantha are finely drawn and believably portrayed.
If you are a college football fan, this book is a must read, for sure. The story centers around two brothers, who are walk-ons to a powerhouse college football team. Of course, the powerhouse college has secrets of their own. Anyone part of the fandom, players, coaches, etc. can act however they want as long as the team wins. There are consequences if they lose.
I am a huge college football fan as well as diehard Chicago Bears fan, this book really caught my attention and I enjoyed it a lot. When reading this it really made me think of the pressures college athletes feel to perform their best especially when on a scholarship or have aspirations for professional sports. There are also hopes and pressures from family. I enjoyed how this book explored all these issues.
Highly recommended. It was intense and relatable.
Thanks to Netgalley, Mark A Salter and Greenleaf Book Group Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I received an ARC of this hard-hitting book through NetGalley.
Sins of the Tribe is a no-holds-barred portrayal of the toxic environment that so often exists in big-time college sports. The tribe in this book consists of the players, coaches, the college administration, alumni and fans of a fictional big-time college football powerhouse. The tribe worships the team and its players, where any and all acts are forgiven as long as the team wins.
The story revolves around two brothers, who are the same age but born of different mothers. One of the brothers is a star high school quarterback, but not talented enough to be a starter in college. His brother, never diagnosed but mentally handicapped in some way, is an amazing placekicker, truly capable of being a star kicker in college. The kicker's holder is, of course, his brother.
The boys' dream of playing for their favorite big-time college programs turns sour when their dream becomes reality. The author portrays how players are used and abused by their coaches and many other forms of corruption can be part and parcel of a big-time sports program. The reader can easily associate real-life coaches and real-life universities that resemble the fictional school in this book.
The book started a bit slow and seemed like a coming-of-age story about the two brothers, but quickly became a fascinating, though troubling, story.
I found this book to be a fascinating story about first, child abuse, group tribalism and college football. The first chapter was a little confusing but after that, It talks about two young men, one with “issues”. This young man has a talent. He can kick football field goals with incredible accuracy. However, he will only do it with his brother planting the football. This is how both end up as walk ons on a college football team. This school team has policies for student athletes, requiring education, honesty, commitment to each other and the team. All goes well until the long tenured coach passes away. Now everything changes abruptly when the new coach arrives. After I got through the first couple chapters, I found myself unable to put the book down until I finished.
A thoughtful look at tribalism through the lens of collegiate football. Done carefully enough to bring to mind the larger tribal takeover of the GOP and the damage that tribalism does to the world we live in. There is a lot of game play minutiae but it’s essential to understanding the characters and the theme. There is discovery on every page, learning about the world away from what you’ve always known, moments when character is revealed, lives that are restructured as the campus is, and as the characters’ actions and reactions cause them to become. It is a moving story which causes the reader to re-examine institutions through the lens of the cultures they encourage or reinforce. Highly recommend. It is a book to spark reflection and discussion.
Initially I requested this book as my husband has been a high school football coach for 45+ years and I wanted to get a sense of the enthusiasm that always envelops him. What I didn't anticipate was how emotional I would become as I was drawn into the story from the very first page as it sucked my heart and soul out of my body (and then replaced them, fortunately)! Wow, I can't even begin to explain how deeply it affected me. Protagonist Wally is given a chance to play for The Tribe because his brother, Henry--though he's on the spectrum--is a fabulous kicker who lets nothing deter him. But this team has its own problems as they fight for superiority. Fortunately, there are also incredible mentors like Wally's professor and even Samantha, the journalist who Wally is suspect about at first. Plot aside, this novel is just incredible in its humor, its pathos, its understanding of football, and most of all humanity with all its pitfalls and challenges. I cried through much of it, but I feel like I am a better person for having read this book. I will never watch another game the same way and without thinking of this incredible novel; should be required reading for players and families!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Sins of the Tribe
By Mark A. Salter
This book is ostensibly about college football and what harm can be done by a program which runs amok. But it is about much more than that – the football program at fictional Bastille University is a microcosm of society in general. That the team nickname – the Tribe – actually is part of the message here becomes evident early on. As the Professor explains to Wally: "Everything is tribal…tribalism is the strongest dynamic in humanity; stronger than morality, kindness, rationality, even sovereign constitutions – unless of course a nation defines its tribe by that constitution."
Wally is a young man from an abusive home who has spent his childhood trying to protect his brother, Henry, from their father's drunken abuse. He has followed the exploits of the Tribe under Coach Oldham, an honest and compassionate coach who builds his program to nurture the young men in his care. Wally's naïve belief is that this wonderful program can save him and his brother (who, though undiagnosed, seems to be autistic). Through a quirk of fate Wally and Henry manage to make the team – Henry as a phenomenal kicker and Wally as his holder. Their year with the Coach is a dream come true – though an eye opener for Wally in many ways.
Then things change and the heaven Wally and Henry enjoy turns into a hell on earth. The coaching staff becomes abusive, divisive – dishonest. Wally becomes more and more unsettled – not liking what he is experiencing but unable to leave because of Henry.
What happens from then on is shocking – until the reader sits back and really takes a look at the tribal mentality. What really is shocking is when the reader understands that the Tribe reflects what is going on in America – and the world – today.
Thanks to Mr. Salter for writing a real eye opener.
I'm intrigued by documentaries about football and the behind-the-scenes. Baller is actually one of my favorite shows. Reading this book was eye-opening and interesting. It's an intriguing page-turner. A must-read.
I do not watch college or pro football and understand very little about the sport. HOWEVER, I could not put this book down! The reader will get a look behind the scenes of college football and the everything the author writes about - I know it happens in the real world - we the fans just don't see it. The characters are unforgettable and well developed. Truly an insightful book.
There are a few excerpts from the book that will stay with the reader long after reading the book and I feel it sums up the book perfectly:"
"Tribes are the source of all human power."
"Tribes can achieve anything and destroy everything."
"Tribes are impenetrable, immune to everything in their way, except one thing: lies."
"Exploitation is in plain sight...."
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