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
In his metaphysical romp “The Joy of Sports,” Michael Novak pleaded that the sports pages of newspapers not contain anything about sports business, lest the “Money Changers in the Temple” (an actual title of one of the book’s chapters) sully the spirit and imagination behind the games humans play:
“It is important to our kind of civilization to keep sports as insulated as we can from business, entertainment, politics and even gossip.”
As Novak wrote this, in the late 1960s, he understood he was fighting an uphill battle, later acknowledging “that there would be no money in sports if people did not love sports, if sports did not draw.” Continue reading
When he tragically died in an auto accident at the age of 28 in 1993, Dražen Petrović was on the verge of breakthrough stardom in the National Basketball Association. The Croatian-born guard, dubbed “The Mozart of Basketball” by an admiring journalist, was part of the first wave of European stars to emerge at the highest levels of professional basketball.
But his odyssey was never easy, and Petrović never took his talent, nor his opportunities, for granted, as Australian author Todd Spehr explains in a full-scale biography whose title is drawn from the player’s nickname.
Spehr, a former college player and coach in the United States, has produced a richly detailed account of how Petrović drove himself to excel and reach the competitive pinnacle of his sport, just as the NBA began to take on a global persona. Continue reading
In the opening pages of “The Selling of the Babe,” his new account of how Babe Ruth came to be a New York Yankee, author Glenn Stout drops the following note about the World Series in 1918, when Ruth led the Boston Red Sox to a championship:
It was the last fall classic in history, Stout writes, “in which no one on either team struck a home run.”
The business and insider baseball machinations that followed, involving Red Sox owner Harry Frazee and his Yankees counterpart, Col. Jacob Ruppert, form the heart of Stout’s inquiry.
Props to Los Angeles-area sportswriter Tom Hoffarth, who for several years has posted 30 baseball book reviews in as many days at the start of each Major League season on his website Farther Off the Wall.
A longtime media writer for the Los Angeles Daily News, Hoffarth then ranks the books in order of how he liked them, putting them under subheads such as “top shelf” and at the other end, “teetering on the Mendoza line.”
The reading for this “30 for 30” undertaking is done well in advance, of course, and the reviews are briskly-paced, informative and peppered with humor and sometimes wry observations. Continue reading
In place of my standard book review this week I’m rounding up some news and reviews about new sports books, some of which I am going to be reviewing soon.
As I mentioned previously on the blog, I’m taking a bit of a creative break while I “spring forward” with new posts, podcasts and reviews. Maybe it was just some winter cabin fever setting in but I need to recharge my batteries a bit before tackling what promises to be an abundant spring and summer of sports books.
In addition to the start of the American baseball season, I’m also researching post topics that include the Australian Football League, the Olympics, European soccer, sports analytics, tennis and more. Continue reading
Reforming the institutions of college sports—including the supreme body of them all, the National Collegiate Athletic Association—is a familiar subject for reformers and journalists alike.
NCAA reform efforts have been somewhat uneven since the 1980s, when money and harrowing allegations of mistreatment of college athletes collided to create a new public awareness.
As the second decade of the 21st century dawned, so did concerns about even more money flowing into major conferences and schools and power wielded by coaches, athletics directors, commissioners and NCAA leaders.
Left out of this gravy train have been the athletes, especially the revenue-producing sports of football and men’s basketball, who are offered scholarships (but not always) in exchange for their otherwise free labor. Continue reading
Sports psychology, in its most basic application, aims to help athletes and coaches improve performance by unlocking mental obstacles, and to examine what impassions fans, often to the point of irrationality.
The authors of a new book approaching broader matters in sports psychology delve into similar terrain, citing an array of recent case studies and academic research, much of it rooted in behavioral science.
In “This Is Your Brain on Sports,” Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers attempt to answer some of the most vexing questions in contemporary sports. Such as: Continue reading
The pervasiveness of high school, college and NFL football in American society was the subject of Gregg Easterbook’s 2013 book “The King of Sports.”
In late 2015 Easterbrook returned with an examination of various crises involving the National Football League, especially concussions and domestic violence, in “The Game’s Not Over: In Defense of Football.”
An unabashed fan of the pro game, Easterbrook offers a rare and refreshing antidote to much current media moralizing about NFL football, especially concerns over brain trauma suffered by some of the game’s most iconic stars.