Not Just for Fans: Sports Books Everyone Will Love

You don’t need to be a sports enthusiast to enjoy these books! Explore a different side of athletics with these books that go beyond competition to ponder political justice, society, and the repercussions of professional sport. Lace up your figurative boxing gloves, skates, and cleats—you’re in for a wild ride.

Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE by Pat Patterson

 When Pat Patterson was 17 years old, he was asked to leave his home after telling his parents he was in love . . . with a man. Moving from Montreal to the United States in the 1960s, barely knowing a word of English, he was determined to succeed in the squared circle. Back when homophobia was widespread, Pat lived in the super-macho world of pro wrestling. In this fascinating and revealing memoir of revolutionary talent, pioneer and creative savant, Patterson recalls the trials and tribulations of climbing to the upper ranks of sports-entertainment. Be inspired by Patterson’s story of how he, as the first gay superstar, changed the WWE.

Black Ice: The Val James Story by Val James and John Gallagher

In 1982, Val James became the first African American NHL player when he took to the ice with the Buffalo Sabres, and in 1987 he became the first black player of any nationality to skate for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a decade where it was rare for Americans to make it to the NHL, James faced racial slurs on and off the ice. As featured in a Fox News Black History Month documentary, on, and in the New York Times, Black Ice is the untold story of a trail-blazing athlete who endured and overcame discrimination to realize his dreams and become an inspiration for future generations. Follow James as he escorts you through growing up on Long Island, learning to skate at 13, leaving home to play junior hockey in Canada at 16 (where he was usually the only black person on his teams and, often, in the whole town) and his journey to the NHL. His story of facing racist taunts as a teenager, and even as a professional player, is eye opening and you will be in awe of James’s strength, determination, and resiliency.

The Hockey Scribbler by George Bowering

A beautiful look at Canadian life through the eyes of former poet-laureate George Bowering, this memoir is filled with both literature and hockey fandom. Hockey forms the backdrop of our lives in Canada; the voices of Hockey Night in Canada sportscasters are our soundtrack, and visions of skates scraping across the ice lull us to sleep. George Bowering has been an avid and attentive hockey fan since boyhood and has an extensive catalogue of thoughts and opinions on the personalities and events that populate Canadian hockey history. In The Hockey Scribbler, Bowering starts with recollections of growing up in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, then recounts how hockey influenced his career as a writer (how Canadian is that?!). The latter half of the book eases into the role of an eclectic historical account, focusing on a mish-mash of topics with oft-scathing commentary interspersed: He compares and contrasts brothers, and fathers-and-sons who played in the NHL. He recalls the 1972 Summit Series and opines on how youth hockey has changed, not necessarily for the better. The Hockey Scribbler is part autobiography, part history book and part cultural treatise that will entertain even readers who prefer to spend their Saturday nights not watching Hockey Night in Canada.  

Concussion Inc.: The End of Football As We Know It by Irvin Muchnick

A hot issue of 2016, traumatic brain injuries in football are being talked about everywhere from books to movies to the 11 o’clock news. Not an accidental part of the sport but an inevitable injury — starting in high school, through college, and into the NFL, young players face repeated head trauma, and those sustained injuries create lifelong cognitive and functional difficulties. In this blog-turned-book, Muchnick exposes the decades-long cover-up of scientific research into sports concussions and the ongoing denial to radically reform football in North America. This compilation of investigative research reveals the complete head injury story as it developed: from the doctor who played fast and loose with the facts about the efficacy of the state-mandated concussion management system for high school football players, to highly touted solutions that are more self-serving cottage industry than of any genuine benefit. Be captivated and shocked by this story that probes deep into the corporate, government, and media corruption that has enabled the $10-billion-a-year National Football League to trigger a public health crisis.

The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superstar by Greg Klein

New Orleans was once one of the hottest cities for pro wrestling because of one man — Sylvester Ritter, better known as the Junkyard Dog. JYD became a legend in the Big Easy, drawing huge crowds to the Superdome, a feat no other wrestler ever came close to. And in 1980, he managed to break one of the final colour barriers in the sport by becoming the first black wrestler to be made the undisputed top star of his promotion. This biography cements JYD in the history books by looking at his famous feuds, the business backstories, and the life of the man outside the ring. A remarkable tale of a man still remembered on the streets of New Orleans, learn how an area known for racial injustice became the home of wrestling’s most adored African-American idol.

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