Sports Biblio

The Imagination Of Sports In Books, History And Culture

The Athletic and Its Sports Journalism Gamble: Sports Biblio Digest 2.18.18

I want The Athletic to succeed beyond its founders’ wildest ambitions, its writers’ and editors’ most optimistic hopes and its growing subscriber base’s deepest passions for quality sports journalism.

The AthleticIts motto—”fall in love with the sports page again”—is simple and brilliant. Its look is clean and uncluttered. No automatic video pop-up ads, newsletter sign-up boxes, or clickbait headlines that would demean a toddler.

The subscription plans are affordable, and when you sign up for one vertical, you get all the rest. It’s a grand bargain for a sports fan who doesn’t want to be bombarded with the above, as well as hot takes, babes, pop culture inanities and LaVar Ball’s latest machinations. Continue reading

The Abundant Art of Basketball Writing: The Sports Biblio Digest 2.11.18

The narrative and historical strands of a sport not much older than the modern age and incubated in blank-slate form haven’t always been woven together in consistent fashion. While basketball writing has existed as long as the game invented to fill the dead of winter, its evolution has required some dedicated caretakers to give it shape for contemporary readers.

Basketball Great Writing About America's Game, Alexander WolffThe very first sampling of Alexander Wolff’s new collection “Basketball: Great Writing About  America’s Game” (Library of America, published Feb. 27) comes from James Naismith, the game’s inventor, and it’s a clear exposition of the physical educator’s aims that passionate fans will appreciate.

While trying to devise a new version of a team ball sport, Naismith gives us a revealing glimpse of an innovator who knew what he wanted to achieve conceptually but had to experiment quite a bit to get there. Continue reading

The Austere Appeal of the Winter Olympics: Sports Biblio DIgest 2.4.18

Another twist in the Russian doping saga. Extravagant, even wasteful, spending. Clumsy political maneuvering. These do not merely form the backdrop for the XXIII Winter Olympics, which get underway this week in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Freeze FrameThese storylines have become deeply interwoven into the fabric of the Olympic movement, more tarnished and more corrupt than ever before. Even before they have begun, the largest Winter Games ever have become fraught with all that’s negative about the Olympic movement.

This week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned 28 of 39 lifetime doping bans levied recently against Russian athletes, including some medal winners from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Continue reading

The Long History of Sports and Politics: Sports Biblio Digest 1.28.18

In attempting to explain the blending of sports and politics in the United States, Kenneth Cohen, a curator at the National Museum of American history, traces the historical arc back before the founding of the nation.

They Will Have Their Game, Kenneth Cohen, sports and politicsThe author of the recently published “They Will Have Their Game: Sporting Culture and the Making of the Early American Republic,” Cohen expands on this theme in a related piece at Slate, writing that “explicitly political sports were the norm in American life for the nation’s first 125 years.”

Cohen cites examples of politicians exploiting sporting events to attract voters, even organizing their own competitions. Campaign cartoons in the early 19th century frequently depicted candidates in foot races, boxing matches and card games. Continue reading

The Roots of a Gymnastics Scandal: Sports Biblio Digest 1.21.18

The gymnastics scandal that has engulfed some of America’s most recent Olympic champions, a legendary coach’s training facility and the sport’s governing body in the United States has been hiding in plain sight for years.

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, Joan Ryan, gymnastics scandalIt’s been more than 20 years since journalist and author Joan Ryan published an expose of the cloistered, often punishing cultures of American gymnastics and figure skating, where very young girls were coaxed, prodded and often abused by mostly male coaches to reach the pinnacle of Olympic success.

In 1995, Ryan’s book “Pretty Girls in Little Boxes” did kick up a storm of controversy, and rankled the establishments of those sports. But troubling developments inside the elite gymnastics world were still to come. Continue reading

Remembering Keith Jackson and Dick Enberg: Sports Biblio Digest 1.14.18

On either side of the recent Rose Bowl, two voices synonymous with the classic New Year’s Day college football game went silent. Keith Jackson and Dick Enberg called so much more than what Jackson had famously dubbed “The Granddaddy of Them All,” but that’s the event that first came to my mind when I first heard about their deaths.

Dick Enberg, Oh My!Enberg, who called basketball, pro football, baseball, Wimbledon and much more, was 82 on Dec. 21 when he died from a heart attack.

He had retired from announcing San Diego Padres games in 2016, and just a few weeks before his death, served on a panel discussion about the 1968 UCLA-Houston college basketball game at the Astrodome, which was his breakthrough on the national scene. Continue reading

Winter 2018 Sports Books Preview: Sports Biblio Digest 1.7.18

Just a short drumroll for this: Sports Biblio’s Winter 2018 Sports Books Preview, a selection of new releases from January through March of this year.

A Season in the Sun, Mickey MantleI’ll have more frequent updates on sports books, new and otherwise, on the blog, which I’m revamping for more frequent posting very shortly, including a midweek post on new and noteworthy titles, paperback and e-book releases and more.

I’ll also have weekly posts on sports journalism and media, sports history, sports art and culture (including photography, films, music and collectibles), as well as a weekend review. This post, which will run on Saturdays, will include book reviews and essays on the broader topics examined on Sports Biblio. Continue reading

Sports Biblio’s year in sports reading, 2017

Enjoy some of the best newspaper, magazine and online reads (as well as some podcasts and a few videos) collected by Sports Biblio for the year 2017 and that we included in our newsletter, the Sports Biblio Digest (you can subscribe here if you haven’t already, and browse through the archives).

Pull Up A Chair, Vin ScullyThese 100 or so pieces are rounded up by topic and more or less appear in chronological order. They’re only a small sampling of what I would have liked to have included here.

Thanks to many of you who have passed along links along the way, and who continue to read and subscribe and make Sports Biblio better. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Continue reading

Notable Sports Books of 2017: Sports Biblio Digest 12.17.17

The task of whittling down a rather long list to compile Sports Biblio’s Notable Sports Books of 2017 was more involved than I expected it to be.

The Pride of the Yankees, Richard Sandomir, Notable Sports Books of 2017Why I’m surprised by this I don’t know, for this has been the case since I started this blog in 2015. But to put some thought and consideration into book projects that are years in the making requires more than just a few minutes, or even a few hours.

To settle on 15 books, and to come up with a couple of sentences to describe them, was even more challenging.

Continue reading

The Sports Photography of Walter Iooss Jr.: Sports Biblio Digest 12.10.17

There aren’t many more tributes that can be applied to the stunning sports photography career of Sports Illustrated legend Walter Iooss Jr. beyond the fact that his work continues to be examined and displayed, even away from the splashy elite gallery world, with plenty of appropriate acclaim.

Classic Baseball, Walter Iooss Jr.A small exhibit of his baseball photography continues through Jan. 7 at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, and as critic Jon Ciliberto of ArtsATL writes, there are still many new ways of seeing Iooss’ subjects through fresh, breathtaking new lenses.

The Emory exhibit, entitled “And Something Magical Happened,” is brilliant for its simple framing of everyday baseball games, whether it’s Lou Brock on the run or stickball boys in the streets of Havana.  Continue reading

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