The news this week that the International Weightlifting Federation has banned Russian weightlifters from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the wake of the massive Russian doping scandal is another shocking development on the Olympics-and-doping front.
With the opening ceremonies taking place on Friday, it’s uncertain how many Russian athletes will show up in Brazil. At least 100 will not be going, in track and field, cycling and weightlifting, with efforts underway to determine the fate of Russian athletes in other sports.
This week also marked the publication of David Goldblatt’s “The Games: A Global History of the Olympics,” and yes, they’ve always been a fiasco, as he traces the origins of its wobby governance structure, and the overly idealistic, if well-meaning men like Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who nonethless launched them with large ambitions. Continue reading
The sports journalism career of Dan Jenkins is one of the most storied in the profession, and extends into sports fiction.
Famous for his pro football novel “Semi-Tough,” later a film starring Burt Reynolds, Jenkins also is the chronicler of more than six decades of golf writing.
In this episode of the Sports Biblio Podcast, I discuss Jenkins’ golf writing through his 1994 collection, “Fairways and Greens,” one of his many books about a sport that he skewers and reveres in equal fashion. Continue reading
I love sports history and I love novels. I really enjoy sports history that’s expertly written like a novel, as longtime television screenwriter and producer Mark Frost did in his acclaimed 2002 book, “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
To dramatize a long-ago event, the 1913 U.S. Open playoff between Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, may have required an approach different from pure history, especially for a major publisher (Hyperion).
Frost, whose credits include the popular “Twin Peaks” and “Hill Street Blues” TV programs of the 1980s, also had the big screen in mind with his sweeping narrative, and was a scriptwriter on a film version of “The Greatest Game Ever Played” in 2005.
During a distinguished career designing and renovating some of the best-known golf courses in the world, Robert Trent Jones may have answered most dramatically questions that have vexed players, architects and tournament officials for decades:
What should a golf course look like?
More importantly, how should it play?
In James R. Hansen’s 2014 book, “A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf,” the life and work the renown American golf course architect is scrutinized against the unfolding of the golf boom of the second half of the 20th century. Continue reading
Politics and the Olympics are inextricably linked. That’s because political ideals led to the creation of the contemporary Olympic movement in the late 1800s. A French aristocrat, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, envisioned a revival of the Greek-style competition at the dawn of modern age.
As sports historian Allen Guttmann argues in his 1991 book: “The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games,” Coubertin was eager for a vehicle to promote international (and specifically European) unity near the end of a long century of warfare. This ideal had serious limitations: Continue reading
The first Olympics of my memory ended on a high note following an international tragedy, as Frank Shorter won the gold medal in the marathon in the terrorist-marred games of Munich in 1972.
What Shorter has held inside for most of his life was a family tragedy that gradually ate away at him. It wasn’t until he had reached well into middle age that he went public in Runner’s World magazine.
In his memoir “My Marathon: Reflections On a Gold Medal Life” (Rodale Press), published right before the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shorter details those tribulations in gut-wrenching fashion. Continue reading
As a best-selling book from the moment it was published in 2013, Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat” contains many of the elements of similar volumes before it.
The story of Depression-era resilience and hope told through the prism of sports, this is a tale not unlike Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit.” The odyssey of nine young men facing seemingly insurmountable odds at the Olympics is on a parallel with “Chariots of Fire.”
Winning a gold medal at the Berlin Games, with Adolf Hitler looking on, is the stuff not only of best-selling but film gold, and cinematic treatment of this feat was in the making as the 2016 Olympics approached. Continue reading
Tim Duncan retired this week after 19 NBA seasons, five championships and two MVP crowns, all with the San Antonio Spurs, and the release of the news was as understated as his career.
There was no farewell tour, no posting on The Players Tribune, no gauntlet of national media interviews to follow. He didn’t even show up for his own retirement announcement, although he posted a letter on the Spurs’ website.
For Duncan, the decision to step away from the game was easy after what turned out to be an injury-riddled final season: “The game wasn’t fun any more.” Continue reading
Every so often I want to collect summaries and links to book reviews on Sports Biblio. These reviews run roughly every other week, alternating on Fridays with a podcast.
I invite you take some time to click through what interests you, whether you’re new to the site or have been reading Sports Biblio for a while.
My own interests and leanings in this first batch of book reviews are obvious, and I’m very conscious of the need to diversify. The list that follows is heavy on popular American team sports, but I think the topical variety is healthy. Continue reading