Sports are, in essence, about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Somebody wins and somebody loses. It’s this simplicity that makes them so appealing to so many people. But sometimes sports are about more than the final tally on the scoreboard. Sometimes their outcomes have implications for things like politics, racial equality, gender equality or national pride. These moments are important to everyone, not just those who live and die with their teams’ success. So for those of you who care nothing for sports, here are a few sports books you might like.
- “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink” by David Margolick. The extraordinary story of two men who found themselves in the middle of one of the greatest political conflicts of all time. Louis and Schmeling fought twice in the late 1930s and the hype surrounding their bouts perfectly encapsulates the racial and political tensions of the period.
- “Carlisle vs. Army: Jim Thorpe, Dwight Eisenhower, Pop Warner, and the Forgotten Story of Football’s Greatest Battle” by Lars Anderson. In the early 1900s the Carlisle Indian School football team, led by Jim Thorpe and coached by Pop Warner, barnstormed the country, crushing all opposition and confronting American prejudices against Native American Indians.
- “Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports” by Susan Ware. The debate over gender equality reached a high point during the 1970s. The passage of Title IX and King’s victory over Bobby Riggs in tennis’s “Battle of the Sexes” helped make sports influential to this debate.
- “The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís” by Mark Kurlansky. Ostensibly about sports, this book covers the history and culture of the Dominican Republic and how baseball has become its national game.