Sports Biblio

The Imagination Of Sports In Books, History And Culture

Scorching Hot Dog Day Summer Sports Reads: Sports Biblio Digest 7.16.17

In my corner of North America, the wilting heat of the summer (compounded by a broken home air conditioner) had me reaching for some weather-related things to read, and ironically enough, actually cooled me off a little. So has a deep immersion in Roger Angell’s wondrous “The Summer Game.”

roger angell, the summer gameJuly is actually my favorite month of the baseball season, aside from October. I enjoy the historical backdrops of the All-Star Game and Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and it’s also when I dig into some substantial baseball reading outside the winter.

I’m including in this week’s abbreviated newsletter a few stories (and a couple of fine podcasts) that I hope you’ll find worth your time, and I’ll return next week with a more robust Digest. Continue reading

Remembering The ‘Sultan Of Swat Stats:’ Sports Biblio Digest 7.9.17

The day after the Society for American Baseball Research wrapped up its annual conference in New York, one of the organization’s most beloved members passed away.

SABR Home Run EncyclopediaDavid Vincent, 67, was dubbed “The Sultan of Swat Stats” by former ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark for his prodigious research into the game’s most prodigious statistical category—that of the home run.

In the many tributes that followed Vincent’s July 3 death due to stomach cancer, his impact on baseball numbers and history beyond that one category is immeasurable.

Continue reading

Women’s Sports, Past and Present: Sports Biblio Digest 6.25.17

Summertime has become the biggest window of the year for women’s sports to emerge as spectator entities. This year is no different, with the cricket and rugby World Cups being staged, as well as the women’s Euro 2017 soccer tournament.

Game Changers, Molly Schiot, women's sportsIn the United States, women’s pro basketball and soccer are also in-season, and for the first time in a decade and a half the Solheim Cup will be shown on network television in America.

For a non-Olympic year, this summer calendar is a richly generous one for female athletes, and they’re being presented more robustly than ever. Sadly, for too many influential women’s sports observers, it’s not enough. Continue reading

Whither the Sports Book Market? Sports Biblio Digest 6.18.17

This week’s edition of the Sports Biblio Digest notes the distinguished collection of sports books honored this week in Britain, but with a sobering aside.

Forever Young, Oliver Kay, sports book marketOliver Kay’s “Forever Young” was named the Cross Sports Book Award book of the year. The book by Kay, football correspondent for The Times, was cited at the same time one of Britain’s leading sports book editors was shown the door by his employer.

According to The Bookseller, a British trade publication, Transworld has decided to pull back on the sports book genre “in the face of what its publisher calls “a rapidly declining market.” Continue reading

Soccer and the Intellectuals: Sports Biblio Digest 6.11.17

“Baseball and boxing are tailor-made for narrative,” Bécquer Seguín writes in a recent post, “Soccer for Intellectuals,” on the Public Books blog. “Soccer, on the other hand, isn’t wedded to the fate of individuals.”

Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano, soccer intellectualsHegel’s master-slave dialectic and Eduardo Galeano’s classic “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” (previous Sports Biblio post here) are quickly invoked in the same gargantuan paragraph in one of many interesting, if meandering points in an essay clearly aimed at the academic mind.

Seguín, soon to become a professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University, does delve into the literary treatment of soccer, after openly wondering why the sport doesn’t have a figure of the magnitude of Roger Angell or A.J. Liebling. I argue later on that it does. Continue reading

50 Years Of Black Athlete Activism: Sports Biblio Digest 6.4.17

It was 50 years ago today, in an office in downtown Cleveland, that prominent American black athletes met in what turned out to be the first event in a full-fledged movement of political protest.

Harry Edwards, Revolt of the Black Athlete, black athlete activismAt the behest of Browns’ running back great Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor (later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and others gathered at what became known as The Cleveland Summit.

The general purpose was to support Muhammad Ali’s refusal to join the U.S. Army as the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. However, as Jonathan Eig, author of a forthcoming biography of Ali, wrote this week at The Undefeated, there are many layers to this story. Continue reading

The Underrated History of the 1970s NBA: Sports Biblio Digest 5.28.17

I fell in love with basketball watching the NBA in the 1970s.

Tall Tales and Short Shorts, Adam Criblez, 1970s NBA Long before I preferred to watch and write about college basketball, the professional game quickly rivaled baseball, my first love, and nearly eclipsed my passions for American football.

Walt Frazier and the New York Knicks, to be exact, triggered this hoops hysteria for me, along with Pete Maravich and the red, white and blue basketball of the American Basketball Association. Continue reading

The aesthetic joys of Roger Federer: Sports Biblio Digest 5.21.17

As he nestles into his mid-30s, Roger Federer is picking his spots to shine on the tennis court and extend his career.

Fedegraphica, Mark Hodgkinson, Roger FedererFederer may have surprised himself when he claimed the Australian Open crown in January in another epic match against Rafael Nadal, his great rival.

At the same time he called that win in Melbourne one of the most special of his career, Federer also privately was contemplating retirement. Continue reading

The ‘Sweetness and Light’ of Frank Deford: Sports Biblio Digest 5.7.17

When Frank Deford signed off this week after 37 years of Sweetness and Light, his regular sports commentary on NPR, I thought it strange that there was very little public or media reaction.

I'd Know That Voice Anywhere, Frank DefordThen I remembered it’s been more than a year since his weekly contributions were cut back to a monthly basis, partly because of the public radio outlet’s push for diverse voices, and not long after a churlish outcry over his segment on media coverage of women’s sports.

The asinine “shoot the messenger” posturing from new media hipsters (including rife usage of “mansplaining,” the ridiculous concoction of an easily triggered millennial media) brought to mind a letter I wrote to Deford years ago, before today’s snarky web kidz were born, when he was the editor of the late, great The National. Continue reading

ESPN and the Future of Sports Journalism: Sports Biblio Digest 4.30.17

When “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’ wildly entertaining and revealing oral history of ESPN was published in 2011, it seemed that the so-called “Worldwide Leader” in televised sports, which included a distinctive brand of sports journalism, had grown too big to fail.

Those Guys Have All the Fun, ESPNIn addition to its heavy variety of live programming, ESPN had become a behemoth across the North American sports media landscape to include radio, documentary film production and high-end television and web journalism that was the envy of the profession. It was the only place where many talented, ambitious sports journalists wanted to be.

After all, ESPN.com had grown into a sportswriters’ paradise because of the emphasis on dogged reporting and stylish writing, just as the Internet was maturing, and as print media outlets were discarding some of their best, and most expensive, bylines. Continue reading

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