It’s neither by surprise nor by coincidence that some of the renowned and most prolific writers of modern literature have been drawn into the ever exciting natural drama, human tension, passion and true enthusiasm that accompanies sporting activities. From Plimpton’s, to Hemingway’s, to Pat Conroy’s literature works, sporting activities seem to be providing illuminating literary themes that leave such writers with compelling stories to tell.
So, if you have to claim the mantle of being a true sports fan, you must not be enslaved to your television. You need to experience the enthusiasm of sports through other mediums. Literature is the best option.
The following list provides 5 books that I feel are among the greatest sports books of all time.
MUHAMMAD ALI: HIS LIFE AND TIMES by THOMAS HAUSER
Arguably, the most iconic and legendary figures in the world of sports in the 21st century, Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. He surely polarized an entire nation.
Hauser captures Ali’s persona and reaches the summit of his literary work by writing a fascinating and insightful biography of the ‘Greatest One,’ who emerges as a deeply religious, generous, and mercurial man, both inside and outside the ring. This is according to family members, friends, opponents, and world leaders.
FEVER PITCH by NICK HORNBY
Published by renowned British writer Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch displays the young writer’s love for football games, specifically with Arsenal FC. The witty account of how Hornby developed an obsession with Arsenal will leave you with the answers as to why the rest of the world may summon such an obsessive passion for football.
It also teaches that if we want to be successful in life, we have got to learn how to stop procrastinating, like at this video:
The novel is actually a story where football is symbolically used to explain what it is to be a man and get shit done.
THE BREAKS OF THE GAME by DAVID HALBERSHAM
This is a book written by a Pulizer Prize winner about the Portland Trail Blazers‘ 1979–1980 season, and is probably the best basketball book ever written. Halbersham takes us through that incredible season day by day, outlining what made it such a monumental story. This book is recommended for any player of the game to have insight into the minds of great athletes, in addition to training material you might find at sites like Piranha Sports and their basketball training section.
MY LOSING SEASON by PAT CONROY
Having written books such as “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini”, Conroy added “My Losing Season” to his credit. The novel is focused on Conroy’s senior season as a beginner at The Citadel and brings out his life both on court and off the court.
Conroy tries to look at the disappointing season and run-ins with his coach whom he describes as materialistic, white-bred and very southern culture at his school. He focuses on what happens on the ground and brings out a clear picture of the real time and place which very few authors in different genres have rarely explored.
PAPER LION by GEORGE PLIMPTON
George Plimpton, one of the 20th century literary giants who also the edited and published the “Paris Review” magazine focuses on rather unsuccessful attempts he made in football.
Plimpton explains how he hopefully joins Detroit Lion’s training camp as a third quarterback player. The real entertainment in the book comes when he is in the locker room.
THE BLIND SIDE by MICHAEL LEWIS
The book which eventually made an Academy Award-winning movie, (The Blind Side) is undoubtedly Michael Lewis’s most emotionally riveting story he ever crafted to date.
In the novel, Lewis begins with an intensive, nuanced examination on NFL’s offensive strategy that evolved during the time when Lawrence Taylor started to roam on the field and the nightmares that quarterbacks faced. His main concerns are the increased importance of having left tackle position players.
Lewis enters the climax of his literary work when he capture the mixed emotions brought by Michael Oher, who doesn’t know his birthday and name, let alone his biological father’s identity. Oher’s relief come when Sean Tuohy (Lewis’s former schoolmate) and his wife Leigh take him.