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The Best American Sports Writing 2013 [Paperback]

Glenn Stout , J. R. Moehringer

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't call it "The Best American Sports Writing" for nothing 20 Oct 2013
By Barry Sparks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
They don't call this annual collection of articles "The Best American Sports Writing" for nothing.

The book contains 26 articles about bullfighting, bowling, basketball, football, baseball, marathon running, weightlifting, soccer, surfing and swimming. The articles, ranging from three to 25 pages, originally appeared in print publications such as Sports Illustrated, GQ, Outside, Boston Magazine, ESPN: The Magazine, Men's Journal, The New Yorker, The New York Times and online pubs such as Deadspin.com and Narrativemagazine.com.

Series editor Glenn Stout writes that the book is "about people and what concerns us--love, death, desire, labor and loss--more than the simple results of a game or competition." He points out that long-form journalism is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance as the desire to read is unstoppable.

Editor J. R. Moehringer adds that "Sports are a theater of loss, of struggle and despair, of real pain and real blood and primal disappointment, which is why the best sports writing seems to reach back, back, like a discus thrower, to touch the ancient myths."

I have learned from past collections of "The Best American Sports Writing" that every article is worth reading, and I read all 26 straight through. The two most disturbing articles were "Did Football Kill Austin Trenum?" by Patrick Hruby and "The NFL's Secret Drug Problem" by Paul Solotaroff. The most touching and memorable article was "Mourning Glory" by Chris Ballard. I also thoroughly enjoyed "At Swim, Two Girls: A Memoir" by Bridget Quinn. Three articles about marathon runners, "The Marathon Man" by Mark Singer, "Caballo Blanco's Last Run" by Barry Bearak and "Redemption of the Running Man" by Dan Koeppel were all more interesting than I thought they would have been.

Whether you enjoy great writing or sports, or both, this annual collection is well worth your time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another fine entry in the series 31 Oct 2013
By J. Rossi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Admittedly I'm only a few stories deep into the most recent edition, but right off the bat there are some amazing stories. One, about the death of a high school athlete in Michigan, is so well done. It just needs to be read to be appreciated (and not ruin the surprise of what makes it so good). The lead story deals with the return of a matador who is gored to the brink of death; I wouldn't know where to start when writing about a bull fighter, but this is a very well-done character study.

If the rest of the collection matches the level of quality shown early on, this might go down as one of the best entries in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Hit and Miss, but Primarily the Former 27 Oct 2013
By Liebo - Published on Amazon.com
It is impossible for all of the selections of The Best American Sports Writing to equally grip the reader's interest and keep them engaged. Different people have different tastes and preferences, and diverse collections such as this will inevitably contain a few articles that just don't do it for a reader for whatever reason. Unfortunately for me, the book started off with what I found to be one of the least compelling picks, Karen Russell's piece about a Spanish matador's gruesome goring injury and comeback. I have nothing against obscure sports but I simply didn't enjoy Russell's article all that much compared to the other picks. The collection is ultimately a solid mix of articles from a variety of sources from Deadspin to Sports Illustrated to The New Yorker. As is to be expected, the book is somewhat uneven but it does contain some true gems that make it a worthy read for sports fans.

Best American Sports Writing is surprisingly consistent from a thematic perspective, and the general themes of loss and deception make an appearance in many of these stories. Athletes are tragically struck down in their prime, steroids injected and pills popped, businesses go bankrupt, and team employees are wiretapped and mistreated, to name a few. Sometimes these stories celebrate perseverance in the face of adversity and tragedy, such as Chris Ballard's story in Sports Illustrated about a high school baseball team rallying to a state championship after the death of a star pitcher, and other articles like Jason Schwartz's account of the demise of Curt Schilling's gaming company are more bleak but not less interesting.Though there are some lighter pieces like Jeff MacGregor's clever appropriation of Waiting for Godot to examine the NFL lockout, the bulk of the articles are pretty dour.

Frank Deford has a great quote that "When people hear you're a sportswriter they assume you're more interested in the first half of that word than the second." And having read my fair share of sports media I can attest that I understand where these aforementioned "people" are coming from with such perceptions. Most of the book's articles are remarkably well-written, whether it is a sportswriter like Wright Thompson's ESPN article on Urban Meyer's efforts to balance family and football or Mark Singer's gripping New Yorker story about a Michigan dentist suspected of being a serial marathon cheater. Editor J.R. Moehringer culled from a wide array of sources, from longform stalwarts like The New York Times Magazine and the Washingtonian to more predictable sources such as ESPN the Magazine and Runner's World, and I enjoyed the mix. The book does not seem to be organized exactly by sports though several running and football articles are grouped in succession. The book tops out at almost 400 pages and while some of the articles didn't do a ton for me, I still found plenty of enjoyable material.

In Sum

Best American Sports Writing 2013 is a diverse and largely enjoyable collection of some truly excellent pieces on sports. I'm certain that there were some phenomenal articles on sports with upbeat and rosy outlooks printed in the past year, but they were generally excluded in this volume. Not all of the articles are equally interesting (which has to be expected really) and I found the book to be a worthwhile read and recommend it to any sports fans looking for quality longform on the subject.

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Sports Writing Transcends Sports 2 Nov 2013
By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Editor Glenn Stout has embarked on a labor of love, culling over hundreds, if not thousands, of sports stories to come up with this collection of 26 diverse essays, most of which transcend sports and speak to the universal human condition. Here are some highlights:

Short story writer Karen Russell begins with "The Blind Faith of the One-Eyed Matador," perhaps the best in the collection and worth by itself the price of admission. It features a brutally injured toreador and his remarkable comeback and reads like a Greek myth.

Jason Schartz's "End Game" analyzes the failed business venture of pitching great Curt Schilling and shows Schilling's stubbornness, which made him a Hall of Fame pitcher, also made him a business failure.

Bill Gifford's "It's Not About the Lab Rats" is yet another scathing profile of Lance Armstrong and his phony "charity." It makes a great complement to the compelling expose Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell.

Erik Malinowski's "The Making of `Homer at the Bat,' the Episode That Conquered Prime Time 20 Years Ago Tonight" is a great essay about the confluence of pop culture's iconic TV show and baseball legend Ozzie Smith.

Burkhard Bilger's "The Strongest Man in the World" is about Brian Shaw who arguably is indeed the strongest man in the world's recorded history.

Patrick Hruby's "Did Football Kill Austin Trenum?" is an expose about brain trauma at the high school football level and resonates with the concussions in the NFL, another devastating document that would make most parents cringe at the thought of their sons playing football.
Paul Solotaroff's "The NFL's Secret Drug Problem" reveals that NFL players' battered bodies require pain killers, which have become both a necessity for weekly abuse and an addiction.

The last two essays are two more arrows in the billion-dollar NFL industry and suggest that we may soon observe a tipping point in the country's love affair with the NFL.

In sum, these essays are not academic but spring from a depth that transcends ordinary sports writing. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 July 2014
By berel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great collection of stories. There's more to sports than Xs and Os.
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