一個多世紀以來，校際體育運動中發揮了突出的作用，美國的高等教育景觀。大學體育確實是美國高等教育的一種現象，它是課外發展的一種手段，為那些本來不可能有過這種機會的學生提供了機會。他們培養了學生的校風，展示了團結學生、教師、職員、校友和公眾的能力。此外，大學體育運動提高了大眾對普通高等教育的興趣。大型體育場擠滿了熱情的人群帶來了高校校園生活的關注（素，2004）。另一方面，批評家們指出，大學體育的商業化和職業化是如何破壞高等教育的。學院和大學犧牲他們的學術標準犧牲他們的正直，以便他們能在賽場上取得成功。無論是好是壞，大學體育的傳統無疑是鑲嵌在美國高等教育中。他們往往把重點放在“大時間”足球或籃球在傳統的權力，如德克薩斯大學或肯塔基大學。在游戲的回收過程中，William Bowen和Sarah Levin專注于那些不經常與大學體育腐敗有關的組織。他們的研究探討了大學運動在高選擇性，學術聲望的機構。33精英院校研究從常春藤盟校書冰雹，新英格蘭小大學體育聯合會（nescac），和大學體育協會。這些包括學術中堅如哈佛大學，耶魯大學，Williams College，阿默斯特學院，華盛頓大學-圣路易斯，和芝加哥大學。人們會認為，這樣的名校會拒絕妥協，追求體育運動的成功，尤其是這些學院和大學在相對較小的階段進行競爭。然而，Bowen和萊文認為，這些機構并不能幸免于與大學時代大運動有關的問題。
For more than a century, intercollegiate athletics has played a prominent role in the American higher education landscape. Truly a phenomenon of American higher education, college sports have been a vehicle of extracurricular development and provided opportunities to students who might not have had them otherwise. They have generated school spirit and demonstrated the ability to unite students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the general public. Additionally, college athletics have boosted the general public's interest in higher education in general. Large stadiums packed with enthusiastic crowds have brought attention to the campus life of colleges and universities (Thelin, 2004). On the flip side, critics point to how the commercialization and professionalization of college athletics have corrupted higher education. Colleges and universities sacrifice their integrity by compromising their academic standards so that they might achieve success on the playing field. For better or worse, the traditions of college athletics are undoubtedly embedded in American higher education.Much of the energy devoted to college athletics, from both advocates and critics, is aimed at highly competitive spectator sports. They tend to focus on "big time" football or basketball at traditional powers such as the University of Texas or the University of Kentucky. In Reclaiming the Game, William Bowen and Sarah Levin concentrate on groups of institutions not commonly associated with corruption in college athletics. Their study examines college athletics at highly selective, academically prestigious institutions. The 33 elite colleges and universities researched in the book hail from the Ivy League, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), and the University Athletic Association. These include academic stalwarts such as Harvard University, Yale University, Williams College, Amherst College, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Chicago. One would think that such prestigious institutions would refuse to compromise their standards to pursue success in athletics, particularly when these colleges and universities are competing on relatively small stages. Bowen and Levin establish, however, that these institutions are not immune to the problems commonly associated with big-time college athletics.