sports book review

sports book review

The Impact of Sports Books on Readers

1. Introduction

Sports books have proved to have an extensive impact on readers, as reading has become a major part in the lives of students and adults alike. While many find sports books to be compelling and inspiring, there is also a significant amount of evidence to suggest that sports books have a very significant impact on the readers. This impact can be both negative and positive, however it is very obvious that the general impact is positive. People tend to read sports books because they feel more connected to their favorite athlete and sport in a more personal form. Sports fans know that a good sports book can provide an innovative look at the sports they love, and in many cases, a revealing glimpse into the athlete it celebrates. This is just one type of impact that sports books have on readers, because a common reason sports fans read sports books is to learn more about their favorite sports and athlete, and a good book always achieves this. The more that readers enjoy and have fun while reading a sports book, the more positive the impact is going to be. This can be seen at public libraries where young readers are encouraged to read anything, as long as they are enjoying it. What this will do for the young athletes is improve their reading skills in a fun, enticing way. It is known that kids are more willing to practice and read at something that they try to have fun with. Whether they know it or not, improvements of an athletes reading skills can cross over from the classroom to the field, as studies have showed that higher achieving students tend to also be better athletes. Always on a positive note, sports books can also be very inspiring to their audience; the athletes. This can be a major example to the book “Hoop Dreams” where two high school basketball players form Chicago constantly read how a successful professional basketball player was discovered and reeled in to play in the ABA. This story is known to have inspired countless of young basketball players, and the best part is that inspiration is a positive impact that will last a lifetime.

2. Analysis of Sports Books

To be able to analyze the impact of a sport book, a definition of a sport book must be attempted. In this day and age, people have different interpretations of what a sport is. According to Gruneau and Whitson, sport is “the various forms of physical activity that have competitive or entertaining as their goal, involve rules, and are capable of attracting intense devotion on the part of participants and fans.” Each sport has its individual/unique history that defines its culture and it usually derived from the people interested in the sport. The cultures of sport and the history created have usually evolved from various parts of society. Sports have been prevalent in the American culture and have gone through many evolutionary changes. The cultural heritage of sport is what the author of a sport book would try and interpret in his writing. Guttman and Thompson believe that “there are no sports which are entirely devoid of activities and influenced by human societies of whatever kind.” This statement supports the theory that all sports are dependent on the culture and society in which they were created. The author of a sport book would be trying to modernize or interpret the history of a sport and its culture, derived from loosely knit legends of a time before history, to the complex historically grounded institutions of today. Most times they authors want to explain the social significance of the athletic activity in which they are writing about. This idea of writing about the history and culture of a sport can be very broad in its implications to what the author is actually trying to interpret. The history and culture of a sport can be quite complicated because most cultures of sport are dependent upon various parts of political history. Sports are used as means to define nationalism and they are often seen as ways to demonstrate superiority over other nations. A clear example is when Adolf Hitler tried to show Aryan supremacy through the German athletes at the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin.

3. Influence on Readers’ Perspective

At the end, the ultimate goal of sports books, and of all literature, is to affect readers in some way. To intrigue them, to entertain them, or, in the case of sports books, to provoke thought about a particular aspect of modern or past sports. The sports book is often an instrument of persuasion, whether it is to alter historical perceptions or to sway opinions on a current sports issue. For example, Robert Lipsyte’s “Idols of the Game” helped to permanently change views of athletes from untainted role models to human beings with human frailties. John Feinstein’s “A Good Walk Spoiled” shed an entirely new light on the PGA Tour and professional golf in the minds of many Americans. And of course, countless books have been written attempting to change the opinion of the reader on the effects and rights of organized sports on children. All of these books, intentionally or otherwise, have had a dramatic impact on the perspectives of their readers. It is possible that no sports book has had a greater influence on a reader’s perspective than Gay Talese’s “The Silent Season of a Hero.” The book is an in-depth look at the 1966 baseball season as witnessed by the aging legend Joe DiMaggio. As a huge DiMaggio fan since childhood, reading this book affected Talese’s perspective as well, but he was affected in an entirely different way. He was so touched by the ballplayer’s dedication to his sport and his desire to live up to his reputation as a great athlete, that he entered this information in his Grade Two (beta) predictive tier list.

4. Benefits of Sports Books

Readers also gain a valuable look at the athlete’s integrity and sometimes become inspired to emulate it. The youth sports culture is becoming increasingly win-at-all-cost, and it is important for young athletes to have viable role models promoting strong moral values. Such a role model was Roberto Clemente, a baseball hall of famer who died in a plane crash while attempting to deliver supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims in 1972. In his quest to balance tremendous on-field success with civic generosity, Clemente showed that the true measure of an athlete is not in his or her athletic achievements, but in the way that he or she uses them to affect the lives of others. Clemente’s selflessness is a sharp contrast to many of today’s athletes who constantly make headlines for all the wrong reasons. When Clemente’s career and life are examined, the young reader can profoundly learn the difference between the desire for self-gratification and the desire to help others, and realize that the latter is a much more noble cause.

One major benefit of sports books is that readers can learn about an athlete’s resilience through his or her personal accounts. Readers become aware that highly successful athletes are not universally endowed with superhuman qualities enabling them to conquer their opponents and perform miraculous feats. In fact, they realize that the best athletes have faced frequent adversity, but have been able to respond positively to it. Many athletes have had to cope with physical disabilities; an example is Carolina Panthers linebacker, Sam Mills, who at 5’9” and 225 pounds, has defied the odds by becoming a 12-year veteran of the NFL. He has been diagnosed with intestinal cancer and undergone several surgeries to remove tumors. Mills demonstrates that the strong desire to compete and positive attitude can enable an individual to overcome physical handicaps. Horse jockey, Bob Champion, provides another example. In 1979, Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After the cancer spread to his lungs in 1980, he was given a 40% chance of living a year. Through extensive chemotherapy and two surgeries, Champion was able to resume his riding career. In 1981, he rode Aldaniti to an emotional victory in the Grand National Steeplechase. A Champion’s story would be quite inspirational to any young person trying to cope with a serious illness.

5. Conclusion

The perspective of sports books in a juvenile world is an important one. Kids of all ages are bombarded by all forms of media. The portrayals of sports figures in books can influence kids in both positive and negative ways. Positive portrayals of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and leadership can teach kids valuable lessons. Whether we like it or not, kids often look up to athletes as role models. The reading of a sports book can be the first step to inspire a young man to read and learn more about some of his favorite athletes. Kids who play sports and read sports books can often relate to the characters in their novel, to themselves, and their teammates. There is a Little League baseball coach whom I am acquainted with, and he implemented a program where he would assign kids to read a sports biography and do a book report on it. To their surprise, the entire team was more than willing to read them, and it did show in the way that they perceived sports and their work ethic. On the negative side, books with selfish, undisciplined, hot-tempered characters can influence kids in the wrong way. Reading these books can also take away from the harsh realities of racism, tryouts, winning and losing, and self-beneficial acts that are present in today’s sports culture. Overall, sports books have many positive effects on at-risk youth. They are great tools to get kids to read and can teach many useful life lessons.

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