The Best American Sports Writing 2014 Paperback – Oct 7 2014
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From the Back Cover
The Best American Series
Today, most long-form journalism is passed over in favor of catchy numbered lists, leaving only the truly exceptional. That s what best-selling author Christopher McDougall has collected here, in the twenty-fourth edition of the renowned anthology The Best American Sports Writing. This year s compilation celebrates wonderfully diverse facets of the world of sports: Don Van Natta Jr. s discovery of Bobby Riggs s love for Billie Jean King, Bucky McMahon s exploration of the uneasy relationship between surfers and sharks on Reunion, and Amanda Hess s light-touch homage to the sports bra. These varied pieces allow the reader to see beyond the final scores to the people who give meaning to the game.
The Best American Sports Writing 2014 includes
Don Van Natta Jr., Ian Frazier, Amanda Hess, Ben McGrath,
Nick Paumgarten, Charles P. Pierce, Eli Saslow,
Patrick Hruby, Mary Pilon, and others
[INSERT AUTHOR PHOTO] CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL, guest editor, is the best-selling author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen and the forthcoming Natural Born Heroes: A World War II Odyssey.
GLENN STOUT, series editor, is the author, editor, or ghostwriter of nearly eighty books, including the best-selling Fenway 1912, Red Sox Century, and Yankees Century. He s been the series editor of The Best American Sports Writing since its inception in 1991.
About the Author
GLENN STOUT is the author of Young Woman and the Sea and Fenway 1912.
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"Gangster in the Huddle" is the exceptional Rolling Stone essay on Aaron Hernandez; Charles Pierce gives a definitive piece on the Boston Marathon in his "The Marathon," and I was glad to see Deadspin represented with "Mant'i Teo's Dead Girlfriend." I read that at the time, but somehow seeing it in this collection gives it a gravitas that seemed lacking when I read it on a snarky website.
Amanda Ripley's "The Case Against High School Sports" appeared in "The Atlantic," and was a particularly good pick here. I've used it in a college first-year class, and it raised some questions with young men and women to whom sports participation is taken as a given. For those who never saw it the first time around, it's worth getting this attention here.
"The End and Don King" is another surprising piece - I would not have expected to be so taken with a story about Don King, who seems a person we've heard all the stories about already. There was room for one more.
The same is true of "Elegy for a Race Car Driver," another affecting story on an unexpected subject.
All told, a very well edited and selected collection that does a good job of providing sports stories that tell much larger human stories than any 'games' we might think they are.
But instead of a sorta-travelogue anthology, what I got was a (mostly) very American tableau of pop culture tragedies and societal maladies, expanded to grotesque proportions simply, I suppose, because there is so much money in sports, and nothing on earth that makes most of us as crazed or irrational as that wealth.
Maybe my perspective was soured by starting in the middle of the book with "The Match Maker: Bobby Riggs, the Mafia, and the Battle of the Sexes." As it happens, I'm rather fond of the legend of the famous match in question, and for some readers it may certainly be a case of knowing more than you really need to, as least if the somewhat circumstantial evidence and the gossip mongers are to be believed. What's next, Mr. Van Natta, proof that the moon landing was a hoax?
Scurrying back to the start of the collection, I found another faith-in-humanity killer in Rolling Stone's meticulously researched "The Gangster in the Huddle." Taken in context, the tale of an affable sociopath who was enabled by the sport of football at every turn makes Ray Rice's casual brutality in that infamous casino elevator look like child's play.
Amanda Ripley's much lauded "The Case Against High School Sports" is all the more poignant for the likelihood that it will be generations before America's public school system will take the lessons of Premont Independent School District to heart, if ever. Disparaging high school sports comes too close in the U.S. to disparaging God and Country, yet the school district that eliminated sports to remain solvent is a case study in how to bring up grades and send more graduates to college.
In some ways, the bleakest tale here is that of Todd Hoffner, from "Anybody Who thinks This is Porn or Abuse Doesn't Know Me or my family. A familiar tale of prosecutorial overreach, it's a horrifying coda to the even more horrifying Penn State/Sandusky debacle.
I don't want to suggest that portraits of honor and integrity are not to be found in this well-curated collection, but the collective message is a bit bleak, and a bit damning of the culture being examined and "celebrated" - if that's even an appropriate characterization.
Even if I did have the passport, these aren't "lands" that I'd much want to visit. The stories, however, are fascinating and meaningfully bound to history, so I'm very glad to have this 2014 edition in my collection.
Those days of going without amazing sports-related stories are a thing of the past, now that I have discovered Christopher McDougall's superb annual complilation: "The Best American Sports Writing"! This book features sharply-crafted sports journalism which alternately move me to tears, laughter, and flat out amazement! Best of all, I have learned so much about athletes and their battles with physical, emotional, and cultural obstacles, as well as their triumphs. Not all the articles focus on well-known sports figures; some of the best stories describe everyday people, like a poor white kid from Sacramento who dreams of becoming a New York City street basketball legend, or a small college football coach wrongfully accused of possessing child pornography. Sprinkled in this book are quirky bits such as the history of the sports bra, or the real scoop about Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o's phantom girlfriend. Portraits of tennis greats Serena Williams and Li Na are just a few of the sports celebrities who get in-depth but balanced treatment...and the investigative story about whether Bobby Riggs purposefully "threw" the infamous "Battle of the Sexes" between him and Billie Jean King is a real eye opener.
I really enjoyed reading "The Best American Sports Writing of 2014"...and predict 5 to 1 odds you will too!
I plan to locate and read at least the last couple of previous editions to catch up on what I've missed.
As for this volume, it contains 25 articles related to sports, but not necessarily from sports publications: writing was pulled from such varied sources as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, ESPN the Magazine, and Deadspin. While going through these writings a few stick in my mind, such as "20 Minutes at Rucker Park" from SBNation.com and "Raider. QB Crusher. Murderer?" from QC. But all of the 25 entries here are gems at least at some level, and I glad to have a generous collection of them in one place. I'm looking forward to seeing future volumes of this title, as well as sampling the other titles in the series.