In 1948, Ed Stack’s father, Richard, started Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Binghamton, New York, with $300 borrowed from his grandmother. A few years later, Dick expanded to a second location. In 1984, Ed bought the two stores from his father. Today DICK’s Sporting Goods is the largest sporting goods retailer in the country with over 800 locations and close to $9 billion in sales.
It’s How We Play the Game tells the absorbing story of a complicated founder and an ambitious son—one who transformed a business by making it more than a business, conceiving it as a force for good in the communities it serves. The transformation Ed wrought wasn’t easy: economic headwinds nearly toppled the chain twice. But DICK’s support for embattled youth sports programs earned the stores surprising loyalty, and Ed was vocal in sounding the alarm about schools’ underfunding not just of sports but of other extracurriculars, which earned DICK’s even more respect.
Ed’s toughest business decision came in the wake of yet another school shooting; this one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. The senseless loss of life devastated Ed on many levels and he decided to take action. DICK’s became the first major retailer to pull all semi-automatic weapons from its shelves and raise the age of gun purchase to twenty-one. Despite being a gun owner himself who’d grown up around firearms, Ed’s strategy included destroying the $5 million of assault-style-type rifles then in DICK’s inventory.
It was a profit-risking policy that would earn the outrage of some—even threats of harm—but turn Ed into a national hero.
With vital lessons for anyone running a business and eye-opening reflections about what a company owes the people it serves, It’s How We Play the Game is the insightful story of a man who built one of America’s most successful companies by following his heart.