Sports Biblio

The Imagination Of Sports In Books, History And Culture

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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

Culture, politics and sports journalism

The postmodern brand of sports media professional influenced by the social upheavals of the 1960s may have been best personified by Howard Cosell.

When he wasn’t chuckling at Don Meredith’s singing near the end of NFL Monday Night Football games, Cosell was thriving on the cultural cutting edge of sports and society — what some call  “intersectionality” today.

I Never Played the GameFrom his high-profile friendship with Muhammad Ali to his sharply-worded, verbose commentaries, Cosell — who died in 1995 — embodied the rage of the age.

In his classic book “The Joy of Sports,” philosopher and theologian Michael Novak credits Cosell with finding “a new constituency for sports” of white-collar professionals, executives and intellectuals, and feeding them a heavy diet of sociology and cultural criticism.

But Novak also noticed a stark, troubling dichotomy in Cosell’s conversations about sports:

“One misses in him the pleasures of connoisseurship. Above all, one finds in his commentary too much flair for the personal grudges, anxieties, career turning points, etc., of the individual players and coaches.”

These are now the staples of too much of what’s called sports journalism today, but is really something very dubious. 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

Monday Night Football At A Crossroads: Sports Biblio Digest 11.5.17

Does “Monday Night Football” matter any more?

Kicking Off the Week, Monday Night FootballYes, it’s still an exclusive-window game held the day after the usual Sunday NFL regimen, and it counts in the standings just the same.

Since its experimental beginnings in the late 1960s—just as the age of the Super Bowl was beginning—then-commissioner Pete Rozelle’s idea to build a highly-rated “event” around a single game in prime-time weeknight hours helped solidify the professional game atop the American spectator sports heap. Continue reading

The Rebirth of the Los Angeles Dodgers: Sports Biblio Digest 10.22.17

Before the Los Angeles Dodgers could get back to the World Series, they had to undergo a dramatic upheaval at the very top of the org chart.

The Best Team Money Can Buy, Los Angeles Dodgers, Molly KnightAfter Walter O’Malley moved them from Brooklyn 60 years ago, the Dodgers remained in generally good ownership hands until recent years.

The disastrous stewardship of Jamie and Frank McCourt, and their bitter divorce, distracted and devastated what had been a relatively stable franchise. In 2013, with a new ownership group that included former Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, the Dodgers gradually began to reclaim their reputation. Continue reading

An Uncertain Future for U.S. Soccer: Sports Biblio Digest 10.15.17

Long before a disastrous 2-1 loss this week to Trinidad & Tobago in the final match of World Cup qualifying, an uncertain future for U.S. Soccer had been the subject of intense speculation within the American soccer community and its small, but devoted media contingent.

Chasing the Game, Future for U.S. SoccerFor the first time since 1986, the American men’s team will not be going to the World Cup. All it had to do against the last-place team in the CONCACAF hexagonal round was get a draw.

Instead, the U.S. fell behind 2-0 in the first half, then slipped around in the rain in the tiny stadium in Couva, uninspired, as Panama earned a spot in Russia, and Honduras nailed down a playoff berth against Australia. Continue reading

A College Basketball Scandal, Or Not? Sports Biblio Digest 10.8.17

What was instantly dubbed the biggest college basketball scandal in history has already led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville, and comes at a fortuitous time in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Sole Influence, college basketball scandalWhen the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City last month indicted four assistant coaches and several influential athletic apparel company officials on charges of bribery and conspiracy, the news was greeted with apocalyptic predictions.

As the FBI-led investigation continues, ripples through the college basketball community have focused on how deep, and widespread, the alleged corruption may go.

Was this—ahem—the other shoe finally dropping about how high school stars are exploited by colleges and the sneaker makers? Continue reading

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