If you want to truly get the most out of your sports fandom, there is more to it than simply watching it on TV. There are many other forms of media and perhaps the one that offers you the most options is none other than reading a sports book. Reading a story over time can truly connect you to a story unlike ever before. If you are a big time sports fan, do yourself a favor and check out these five books.
1. Paper Lion
Almost every sports fan wonders just how they would fare in the world of professional sports. Well, writer and editor George Plimpton set out to find out for himself. In this book, Plimpton details his experience when he went to the Detroit Lions open tryout to try out for the third string QB position. While the book is mainly about his unsuccessful attempts at football, the books also includes a very rare look inside the locker room and was one of the first “behind the scenes” looks that fans had into the lives and real attitudes of pro athletes.
2. Friday Night Lights
If you have only seen the movie, do yourself a huge favor and check out the book as well. This isn’t only a great story, but it is told in a way that really connects you to the story and those involved, and has you feeling like you personally know these individuals from the town of Odessa, Texas. This books not only touches on the football team, but also their individuals struggles and gets into a bunch of social issues as well and is a great story of triumph and perseverance.
3. Ball Four
This was written in a similar fashion to Paper Lion (as in that it gives a rarely seen “behind the scenes” look), but was much more controversial. The book was written by Jim Bouton, who actually played in the major leagues. The book gave readers an inside look at the lives of players off the field. The book outlined a lot of things such as drug use, drinking, racism and sex among the players, which was shocking to most at the time. It was so controversial that then baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn actually asked Bouton to claim the book was pure fiction, when it wasn’t.
Yes, this is the same story as the award winning film starring Brad Pitt. This book is an insightful look at how Billy Beane used advanced statistics and data to turn an awful Oakland Athletics team into one of the best teams out there. This involved him taking players often undervalued by most teams and turning them into productive players. The book and its method have been looked at by a number of good teams and is not only helpful in that regard, but is also a great and entertaining book.
5. The Sweet Science
This is one of the best and most well written books period. It is a combination of essays written by A.J Liebling, and this book serves as a reminder of just how big and influential boxing was to American culture back in the day (especially in the 50s) compared to its little effect in the present day. He interviews a ton of fans and the book features stories on some of the biggest names in boxing such as Mohammed Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and more. Even if you aren’t a fan of boxing, this one is definitely worth a read.