The Republic of Play — Rob Ruck

Rob Ruck

I’ve come to think of sport—at its best—as the republic of play, offering a vision of society in which fairness prevails—an ethical, transparent arena where performance matters the most and people validate their worth by the strength and acumen of their opponents. It prizes fair play, celebrates the body and the mind, and tests our ability to overcome challenges. At its best, sport creates social capital because being a part of a team in which you have each other’s back and compete with a common purpose is one of life’s treasures.

But just as the early American republic embraced slavery and exclusion alongside national liberation and notions of freedom, the republic of play can be a mean and vicious place—where youth become vulnerable commodities on a global supply chain; the athletes we applaud are traumatized, and sport used to promote anger and misogyny, bringing out the worst—not the best—in us.


Early Praise for The Tropic of Football

“On the night of January 9, 2018, an Alabama freshman named Tua Tagovailoa stunned America by coolly firing perhaps the most perfect pass in college football history. While everyone wondered, ‘Where did he come from?,’ only Rob Ruck had the full answer—and here it is. In this immersive, deeply reported odyssey, Ruck unveils the dynamics powering football’s most dedicated and mysterious cadre, and in the process makes us grapple with a far deeper question. Yes, Samoan islanders have carved out an outsized place in the ultimate American game. But at what cost?”

—S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated senior writer and author of Playing Through the Whistle

More Books by Rob Ruck

  • Tropic of Football book cover
  • Raceball book cover
  • Rooney book cover
  • Tropic of Baseball book cover
  • Sandlot book cover
  • Nelson book cover

Films by Rob Ruck