Sports Biblio

A Blog About Sports Books, History And Culture

Fall 2016 Sports Books: The Sports Biblio Preview Guide

Biographies, memoirs and books about American football take precedence in U.S. publishing circles in September and October. What follows is a selected list of fall 2016 sports books, highlighting notable releases and brief descriptions.

Gunslinger, Brett Favre, fall 2016 sports booksThe subjects include Brett Favre, Steve Young, Chuck Noll, high school football in Texas, NFL players who broke the color line and rape scandals in college football. Arnold Palmer, Jeff Gordon, Wayne Gretzky and Marty McSorley have penned new memoirs, as have U.S. women’s soccer heroines Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd.

Newly retired NBA star Kobe Bryant is the subject of a new book by Roland Lazenby, acclaimed biographer of Michael Jordan. The death of Sonny Liston is examined nearly a half-century later.

Continue reading

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Man of Letters: The Sports Biblio Digest, 8.28.16

As he likes to remind anyone who will listen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been writing books, making and starring in films and television programs and serving in a number of public, non-sporting capacities longer than he ever played basketball.

writings on the wall, kareem abdul-jabbarThe NBA’s all-time scoring leader and multiple record-holder, MVP, all-pro,  six-time league champion and basketball hall of famer has forged a rare post-athletic career and persona that drew admiring notice from Publishers Weekly.

He’s a longtime jazz devotee, and last year became a novelist in a nod to Sherlock Holmes. He recently met with his literary hero, crime fiction writer Walter Mosley (author of “Devil in a Blue Dress”), in a public discussion at the New York Public Library. Continue reading

Sports Biblio Digest 8.21.16: The Art of Sports Photography

The sports photography that iconized the legendary feats of Muhammad Ali, The Miracle on Ice, Willie Mays and Jesse Owens, among many others in previous eras, is enjoying a welcome and necessary appreciation in the digital age.

sports illustrated, sports photographyWe live in a heavily visualized media world that overwhelms the viewer with multiple angle views, roving cameras, endless replays, screeching commentary and instant interviews with breathless athletes.

Yet it is a still, silent shot—seemingly simple to snap but extremely challenging and complicated to get right—that truly captures the eye and renders an image of perfection for the ages. Continue reading

The ambitious baseball fiction of ‘The Art of Fielding’

How serious should baseball fiction be? In the early 21st century, Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” set off that conversation in new ways.

the art of fielding, baseball fiction, chad harbachI was asking myself that same question several times while trying to read Harbach’s 2011 doorstopper, before eventually setting it aside. My ability to dig into big books has been waning in recent years. I would love to blame it all on the distractions of the digital age, so I thought the issue here was me. Continue reading

Sports Biblio Digest 8.14.16: In Praise of the Male Physique

Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless Tonga flag bearer during the Rio Olympic opening ceremonies, turned heads around the world with his brawny male physique and became an instant media celebrity.

the hero's body, william giraldi, male physiqueWhile the taekwondo athlete said he was just trying to introduce others to his Pacific island nation culture by wearing traditional Tongan dress, his well-oiled upper torso calls to mind a reverence for the male form that’s unfancied in the more feminist-minded West today.

Thank heaven, then, for William Giraldi’s “The Hero’s Body,” published this week. Continue reading

The appeal of ‘Victory Journal’: The Sports Biblio Podcast

Many sports magazines promise to offer a real, gritty, authentic look at games and recreational endeavors that go deep into what the athletic experience has to offer. Victory Journal truly delivers on that promise.

victory journal, sports magazinesIn the latest episode of the Sports Biblio Podcast, I explore this sports-and-art magazine that debuted in 2010. When I first noticed it at my local Barnes & Noble, I could tell right away that it stood out from the standard coffee table fare. Once you look through the lushly photographed pages, it’s clear that this isn’t usual magazine eye candy. Continue reading

Remembering American soccer historian Dave Wangerin

The example of American soccer historian Dave Wangerin — a Midwesterner who moved to the United Kingdom to get his soccer fix — continues the spirit of When Saturday Comes.

soccer in a football world, american soccer historianWangerin, who died at the age of 50 in 2011, was given space in the iconoclastic British soccer “webzine” to ramble on about American soccer history, an obscure segment of a sport that has labored in obscurity on these shores for most of its history.

The American game has been derided even worse on the British Isles, especially our when it comes to our use of the word “soccer” over their “football.” Continue reading

Where sports and politics are out of bounds

When it comes to the so-called “intersection” of sports and politics, essayist and author Pamela Haag knows where she stands along this increasingly blurry divide.

barbaric sport, sports and politicsAmericans, she wrote in 2012, should pay more attention to sports than to presidential politics. Sports, she claims, better reflect the values we used to believe we could find in campaigns.

If she watched enought highlights on ESPN “SportsCenter” or listened to enough critics of the college football bowl system, she might amend her remarks: Continue reading

Sports Biblio Digest 8.7.16: On the future of Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated unveiled last week an overhaul of its website only two years after the last redesign, and it was a change that was badly needed.

Tiger Woods, sports illustratedGone is a clunky, slow to load homepage plagued by intrusive overlaying tabs and equally aggravating automatic videos—a scourge of the digital media universe in my estimation—have been improved. A clean, scrollable portal is easy on the eyes and to navigate.

What’s more, this site is functional, something its botched predecessor could not claim. Continue reading

‘Memories of Summer’ connects baseball and literature

Twenty-five years after writing the book that defined his career, Roger Kahn opened his memoir “Memories of Summer” with an observation that bore out what was to come in the following pages:

memories of summer, roger kahn, baseball books“Baseball was the final mythology of my youth.”

In “Memories of Summer,” published in 1997, Kahn ruminates on his boyhood years attending Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field with his father and his early years as a baseball writer covering the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees for The New York Herald-Tribune. Continue reading

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