Sports Biblio

The Imagination Of Sports In Books, History And Culture

Month: July 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Sports Biblio Digest 7.31.16: Let the Doping Games Begin

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.

the games, david goldblatt, politics and the olympics, dopingWith 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 golf writing of Dan Jenkins: The Sports Biblio Podcast

The sports journalism career of Dan Jenkins is one of the most storied in the profession, and extends into sports fiction.

dan jenkins, golf writing, fairways and greensFamous 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

Sports history in novel form: ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’

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.”

the greatest game ever played. golf booksTo 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.

Continue reading

The golf courses of Robert Trent Jones

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:

a difficult par, james hansen, robert trent jonesWhat 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

Sports Biblio Digest 7.24.16: In defense of the Olympic ideal

The Olympic ideal has been taking a beating for more than a century, almost from the time French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin reimagined the ancient Greek competition for the modern age.

rio poster, olympic idealAs I wrote on Sports Biblio earlier this week, political conflict has been part of the DNA of the Olympics, and these ailments have spread through the decades to engulf the very notion of what the games are supposed to be about.

As the Rio de Janeiro Games are set to begin on Aug. 5, the Olympic movement seemingly has been under siege like never before: Continue reading

A short history of politics and the Olympics

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.

the politics of the olympics, allen guttmannAs 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

Frank Shorter and ‘the art of vigilance’

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.

my marathon, frank shorter, olympics booksWhat 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

The literary appeal of ‘The Boys in the Boat’

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 boys in the boat, olympics booksThe 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

Sports Biblio Digest, 7.17.16: Tim Duncan’s Understated Greatness

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.

tim duncanThere 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

The Sports Biblio Collection of Book Reviews, Vol. 1

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.

nfl football, national football league, football, book reviewsI 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

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