This competition was a tough call to make. It came down to two very strong entries. I did at one point have two copies of this book; had I not sent one to a reviewer, there would have been a second winner.
However, I’m awarding the book to last-minute entry Bill. Bill e-mailed me a copy of his fake newspaper and I was thoroughly charmed. That’s dedication to your sports team right there. Bill, you are a true fan, and I respect that. Please e-mail me a mailing address so I can get your book to you ASAP.
My runner-up is Layne White. Layne, I loved the tension and detail in your story. I genuinely wish I had a second copy of this book to give you.
Many thanks to everyone who participated. I enjoyed reading your sports stories, and I hope everyone appreciated the book recommendations.
I’ll post another book giveaway in a couple of weeks time. It’s not sports-related, but I hope to see your comments there, and on other blog postings.
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I got back from vacation just in time for book giveaway day. Whew!
This month’s giveaway is in honor of football season: “Let Me Be Frank,” by Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. It documents his rise through the coaching ranks, his slightly shaky start at Virginia Tech and his years of success with the Hokies. Beamer also touches on football-related events: the Joe Paterno scandal at Penn State, Michael Vick’s involvement with dog fighting and the tragic shootings on April 16.
I am clueless when it comes to football, and even I can tell this would be a great gift for the Hokies fan in your life. Or a great gift to rile the UVa fan in your life.
On a personal note, I have a complicated relationship with sports. American football I don’t understand at all, which is a source of hilarity for my co-workers. I played softball for a couple of years in high school, and apparently wasn’t bad considering I hadn’t even seen one up close until my midteens. I’ve been to baseball and basketball games and genuinely enjoyed them, even though I didn’t fully understand what was going on (why are there so many acronyms in baseball?).
The sport with which I am most familiar is soccer. I grew up in England, and it’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t know something about his or her local team. My interest grew gradually, but powerfully. By the time I hit 12 I had named six guinea pigs after Manchester United players, knew all the words to “Come on You Reds” by Status Quo and was devoted to a particular player who, thank goodness, made things easy for me by making United his career. The World Cup consumes me every four years. I still remember the thrill of England vs. Trinidad in 2006, screaming with delight and relief as England finally scored two late goals within minutes.
So it’s probably no surprise that if I had to name a favorite sports book, it’s one about soccer: “Fever Pitch” by Nick Hornby. Hornby is a massive Arsenal fan and the book revolves around the team’s games, their place in Hornby’s life, and what his love for the team and the sport means in general. It’s been years since I read it, but I remember it as an engaging and eloquent book, one that fans of any team in any sport can relate to because of its philosophies. It’s helped by Hornby’s relaxed, fluid writing and his ability to snapshot culture through words.
I think it says a lot about the complexities of people’s relationships with sports teams that Hornby could produce an entire book. These relationships can be as intense, multifaceted and difficult to articulate as ones with people. We take them very seriously, even as we acknowledge we are silly for doing so. We judge other fans’ love for teams in a way we’d never do with their spousal or family relationships. If they don’t meet our standards for fandom, they are not true fans, and it shouldn’t matter, but it does. Hey, no one said love involves logic, but Hornby at least does a good job of examining his devotion to Arsenal.
If you have zero interest in sports and support no teams, “Fever Pitch” likely isn’t a book you will enjoy. Otherwise, I recommend it. You don’t have to be an Arsenal fan, just willing to accept one man’s interpretation of life through the Beautiful Game.
Want to win a copy of “Let Me Be Frank”? Tell me what is your favorite sports book/story and why? Or, share your favorite sports-related memory.