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A GOOD READ: Read books and play ball!
Most people have become excited about sports at one time or another. Even the most confirmed couch potato like me will gladly tune into the Olympics or settle down to watch a playoff hockey game.
Have a look at some of these popular and intriguing sports books that will get you in the game when the topic of sports comes up for discussion.
The Ghost Runner: the Tragedy of the Man they Couldn’t Stop by Bill Jones tells the story of the 1960s British runner John Tarrant. Tarrant declared the small amount of money he had made as a boxer before he quit and was then restricted from competing at the amateur level. He fought against the British sporting establishment in a lifelong quest to have his amateur status reinstated. The Tarrant legend grew as he disguised himself and ran with no number on his shirt, defying officials and endearing him to the adoring British public. Tarrant’s story is one of endurance and commitment to his sport of choice, running.
Believe that sports and politics don’t mix? Game Over: How Politics has Tamed the Sports World by Dave Zirin manages to contradict that premise once and for all. He examines the complexities of sports and politics in order to show that they do mix and not always in a good way. Zirin destroys the myth that sports are exempt from politics and demonstrates that social, cultural and racial issues are found in many of our sports. Game Over explores the shady side of the NCAA, the explosive 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and why the Dodgers crashed and burned. It covers the struggles of gay and lesbian athletes to gain acceptance, of female athletes to be more than sex symbols and of athletes everywhere to assert their collective bargaining rights as union members.
Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour De France and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti is about the rise and fall of Armstrong, the charismatic champion of the cycling world, the evolution of U.S. professional cycling and the problem of doping in the sport. Everything changed in January 2013 when Armstrong finally admitted to doping and described his “mythic, perfect story” as “one big lie.” This story goes behind the scenes and answers questions about how all this came to pass.
Unsinkable: My Untold Story by Silken Laumann is a memoir about courage and endurance. Laumann became one of Canada’s most beloved Olympians when she won a bronze medal rowing at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 just 10 weeks after she shattered her right ankle and shredded her calf muscles when the German men’s pairs boat collided with her own during a warm-up for the World Cup in Essen, Germany. Laumann contrasts her accomplishments as an athlete with issues she has had to deal with throughout her life because of her childhood experiences.
The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein explores the latest scientific research in order to turn our assumptions about heredity and athletic ability upside down. In fact, he illustrates that sports ability doesn’t just come from genetic traits alone but also from environment. For instance, one small region of Jamaica has produced “an extravagant number of the world’s top sprinters.” Many are descendants of escaped slaves from Africa who created a fierce warrior culture in a remote corner of the island — and scientific research shows that both genetic factors and environment have played a part in this.
How could a young girl from Uganda win a chess game and end up at the Olympiad, especially when she has no idea what the Olympiad is or how the game she has just played allowed her to qualify? Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grand Master by Tim Crothers gives a glimpse of what life is like in a country where the love of chess alone cannot make a life or put food on the table. In September 2010, Phiona Mutesi left the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda and travelled to Siberia to join the world’s most prestigious team-chess event. Although she lost, she gained the respect of older players, who declared that she was a grandmaster in the making. Phiona has aspirations to be a grandmaster and give her family a better life. She hopes to blaze a trail out of the slum so that other chess kids can follow.
This is a small sample of the sports books available at local libraries. Drop by and library staff will help you find more great titles.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published on Wednesdays. Susan Clark works at Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam.