Friday, January 13, 2012

The Best American Sports Writing 2011

Recently finished reading The Best American Sports Writing 2011 and found it had a ton of great writing.

It's probably a strange critique, but it seemed a bit like cheating to have the type of great stories I like discovering all compiled for me by Glenn Stout (series editor) and Jane Leavy (2011 edition editor). That said, the point of a compilation like this is to pull in a number of excellent pieces and it was accomplished well by Stout and Leavy.

There's 29 stories reprinted in the book and of those I had only previously seen four (all in Sports Illustrated)... High School Dissonance by Selena Roberts, Eight Seconds by Michael Farber, Pride of a Nation by S.L. Price and The Courage of Jill Costello by Chris Ballard. Of the remaining 25, five were from ESPN (one ESPN The Magazine and four the website), two each from The New Yorker, GQ and the L.A. Times and the rest from sources with one piece each featured.


There was a lot of excellent stories in the book with below being those that stood out the most...

- Sally Jenkins for the Washington Post with Culture of Silence Gives Free Reign to Male Athletes - very short and exceptionally well written missive on incidences of assault (including murder) tied to male athletes and the warning signs oft ignored.

- Paul Solotaroff for Rolling Stone with The Surfing Savant - written about Clay Marzo and his experience growing up to become a professional surfer who also has Asperger's syndrome. Compelling writing about someone pulled in different directions by (often times well intentioned) people.

- Bret Anthony Johnston for Men's Journal with Danny Way and the Gift of Fear - super interesting piece that similar to the one of Marzo, features an extreme sport (skateboarding) phenom who went through a number of challenges growing up.

- Chris Ballard for Sports Illustrated with The Courage of Jill Costello - piece was previously included in my listing of Best 2010 Writing Linked To (not sure why it's included in a 2011 anthology, but no matter). Written about the Cal-Berkeley crew member and her final days fighting cancer while continuing to complete with her teammates. Solid writing about a remarkable person.

A lot of great pieces featured in the book and it was overall an excellent read.