Summertime has become the biggest window of the year for women’s sports to emerge as spectator entities. This year is no different, with the cricket and rugby World Cups being staged, as well as the women’s Euro 2017 soccer tournament.
In the United States, women’s pro basketball and soccer are also in-season, and for the first time in a decade and a half the Solheim Cup will be shown on network television in America.
For a non-Olympic year, this summer calendar is a richly generous one for female athletes, and they’re being presented more robustly than ever. Sadly, for too many influential women’s sports observers, it’s not enough. Continue reading
This week’s edition of the Sports Biblio Digest notes the distinguished collection of sports books honored this week in Britain, but with a sobering aside.
Oliver Kay’s “Forever Young” was named the Cross Sports Book Award book of the year. The book by Kay, football correspondent for The Times, was cited at the same time one of Britain’s leading sports book editors was shown the door by his employer.
According to The Bookseller, a British trade publication, Transworld has decided to pull back on the sports book genre “in the face of what its publisher calls “a rapidly declining market.” Continue reading
“Baseball and boxing are tailor-made for narrative,” Bécquer Seguín writes in a recent post, “Soccer for Intellectuals,” on the Public Books blog. “Soccer, on the other hand, isn’t wedded to the fate of individuals.”
Hegel’s master-slave dialectic and Eduardo Galeano’s classic “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” (previous Sports Biblio post here) are quickly invoked in the same gargantuan paragraph in one of many interesting, if meandering points in an essay clearly aimed at the academic mind.
Seguín, soon to become a professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University, does delve into the literary treatment of soccer, after openly wondering why the sport doesn’t have a figure of the magnitude of Roger Angell or A.J. Liebling. I argue later on that it does. Continue reading
It was 50 years ago today, in an office in downtown Cleveland, that prominent American black athletes met in what turned out to be the first event in a full-fledged movement of political protest.
At the behest of Browns’ running back great Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor (later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and others gathered at what became known as The Cleveland Summit.
The general purpose was to support Muhammad Ali’s refusal to join the U.S. Army as the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. However, as Jonathan Eig, author of a forthcoming biography of Ali, wrote this week at The Undefeated, there are many layers to this story. Continue reading
I fell in love with basketball watching the NBA in the 1970s.
Long before I preferred to watch and write about college basketball, the professional game quickly rivaled baseball, my first love, and nearly eclipsed my passions for American football.
Walt Frazier and the New York Knicks, to be exact, triggered this hoops hysteria for me, along with Pete Maravich and the red, white and blue basketball of the American Basketball Association. Continue reading
As he nestles into his mid-30s, Roger Federer is picking his spots to shine on the tennis court and extend his career.
Federer may have surprised himself when he claimed the Australian Open crown in January in another epic match against Rafael Nadal, his great rival.
At the same time he called that win in Melbourne one of the most special of his career, Federer also privately was contemplating retirement. Continue reading
When Frank Deford signed off this week after 37 years of Sweetness and Light, his regular sports commentary on NPR, I thought it strange that there was very little public or media reaction.
Then I remembered it’s been more than a year since his weekly contributions were cut back to a monthly basis, partly because of the public radio outlet’s push for diverse voices, and not long after a churlish outcry over his segment on media coverage of women’s sports.
The asinine “shoot the messenger” posturing from new media hipsters (including rife usage of “mansplaining,” the ridiculous concoction of an easily triggered millennial media) brought to mind a letter I wrote to Deford years ago, before today’s snarky web kidz were born, when he was the editor of the late, great The National. Continue reading
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.
In 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
Acclaimed for his books about Vietnam, America in the 1950s and 1960s, the automobile and media industries and the civil rights movement, David Halberstam was killed 10 years ago today while working on a sports book.
He was 73 at the time of his death in a car accident in Menlo Park, Calif., on his way to interview retired quarterback Y.A. Tittle about the 1958 NFL championship game.
That classic at Yankee Stadium between Tittle’s New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts was a hot topic for authors at the time. A year after Halberstam died, Mark Bowden published “The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL” and dedicated the book to Halberstam. Continue reading
Long before they were a respectable, much less dynastic, NFL franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a treasured civic institution in western Pennsylvania, largely because of founder Art Rooney and his son, Dan Rooney.
Dan Rooney died this week at the age of 84, and his contributions to his community are just as important as how he helped shape the NFL in the years after the Steel Curtain dominance of the 1970s.
Later in life he served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland under former President Barack Obama before returning to his position as chairman of the Steelers.