LA Sports brings together sixteen essays covering various aspects of the development and changing nature of sport in one of America’s most fascinating and famous cities. The writers cover a range of topics, including the history of car racing and ice skating, the development of sport venues, the power of the Mexican fan base in American soccer leagues, the intersecting life stories of Jackie and Mack Robinson, the importance of the Showtime Lakers, the origins of Muscle Beach and surfing, sport in Hollywood films, and more.
For over 150 years the Lakota have tenaciously defended their culture and land against white miners, settlers, missionaries, and the U.S. Army, and paid the price. Their economy is in shambles and they face serious social issues, but their culture and outlook remain vibrant. Basketball has a role to play in the way that people on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation configure their hopes for a better future, and for pride in their community.
In Lakota Hoops, anthropologist Alan Klein trains his experienced eye on the ways that Lakota traditions find a seamless expression in the sport. In a variety of way such as weaving time-honored religious practices into the game or extending the warrior spirit of Crazy Horse to the players on the court, basketball has become a preferred way of finding continuity with the past. But the game is also well suited to the present and has become the largest regular gathering for all Lakota, promoting national pride as well as a venue for the community to creatively and aggressively confront white bigotry when needed.
Richly researched and filled with interviews with Pine Ridge residents, including both male and female players, Lakota Hoops offers a compelling look at the highs and lows of a community that has made basketball its own.
Landscapes for Sport explores the intersection of place, body cultures, and politics. With a focus on outdoor spaces designed and used for exercise and sports since the early modern period, this volume uncovers the relevance and meanings of the overlooked landscapes that often constitute significant areas of open space in and outside our cities.
The degradation of modern sport--its commercialization, trivialization, widespread cheating, cult of athletic stars and celebrities, and manipulation by the media--has led to calls for its transformation. William J. Morgan constructs a critical theory of sport that shores up the weak arguments of past attempts and points a way forward to making sport more humane, compelling, and substantive. Drawing on the work of social theorists, Morgan challenges scholars and fans alike to explore new spaces in sport culture and imagine the rich cultural and political possibilities to be found in the pastimes we follow with such passion.
The noted cultural critic Gerald Early explores the intersection of race and sports, and our deeper, often contradictory attitudes toward the athletes we glorify. What desires and anxieties are encoded in our worship of (or disdain for) high-performance athletes? What other, invisible contests unfold when we watch a sporting event?
The world of sports seems entwined with lawsuits. This is so, Paul Weiler explains, because of two characteristics intrinsic to all competitive sports. First, sporting contests lose their drama if the competition becomes too lopsided. Second, the winning athletes and teams usually take the "lion's share" of both fan attention and spending. So interest in second-rate teams and in second-rate leagues rapidly wanes, leaving one dominant league with monopoly power.
The ideal of evenly balanced sporting contests is continually challenged by economic, social, and technological forces. Consequently, Weiler argues, the law is essential to level the playing field for players, owners, and ultimately fans and taxpayers. For example, he shows why players' use of performance-enhancing drugs, even legal ones, should be treated as a more serious offense than, say, use of cocaine. He also explains why proposals to break up dominant leagues and create new ones will not work, and thus why both union representation of players and legal protection for fans--and taxpayers--are necessary.
Using well-known incidents--and supplying little-known facts--Weiler analyzes a wide array of moral and economic issues that arise in all competitive sports. He tells us, for example, how Commissioner Bud Selig should respond to Pete Rose's quest for admission to the Hall of Fame; what kind of settlement will allow baseball players and owners to avoid a replay of their past labor battles; and how our political leaders should address the recent wave of taxpayer-built stadiums.
Lords of the Ring revives the exciting era—now largely forgotten—when college boxing attracted huge crowds and flashy headlines, outdrawing the professional bouts. On the same night in 1940 when Joe Louis defended his heavyweight crown before 11,000 fans in New York's Madison Square Garden, collegiate boxers battled before 15,000 fans in Madison . . . Wisconsin.
Under legendary and beloved coach John Walsh, the most successful coach in the history of American collegiate boxing, University of Wisconsin boxers won eight NCAA team championships and thirty-eight individual titles from 1933 to 1960. Badger boxers included heroes like Woody Swancutt, who later helped initiate the Strategic Air Command, and rogues like Sidney Korshak, later the most feared mob attorney in the United States. A young fighter from Louisville named Cassius Clay also boxed in the Wisconsin Field House during this dazzling era.
But in April 1960, collegiate boxing was forever changed when Charlie Mohr— Wisconsin’s finest and most popular boxer, an Olympic team prospect—slipped into a coma after an NCAA tournament bout in Madison. Suddenly, not just Mohr’s life but the entire sport of college boxing was in peril. It was to be the last NCAA boxing tournament ever held. Lords of the Ring tells the whole extraordinary story of boxing at the University of Wisconsin, based on dozens of interviews and extensive examination of newspaper microfilm, boxing records and memorabilia.
A veteran journalist’s collection of sportswriting on the blue-collar South.
Sport mirrors life. Or, in Paul Hemphill's opinion, “Sport is life.” The 15 pieces in this compelling collection are arranged along the timeline for an aspiring athlete's dream: “The Dawning,” with stories about boys hoping and trying to become men, “The Striving,” about athletes at work, defining themselves through their play, and “The Gloaming,” about the twilight time when athletes contend with broken dreams and fading powers. Through all the pieces, Hemphill exhibits his passion for the sports he covers and a keen eye for the dramas, details, and hopes that fire the lives of athletes, allowing them to become prototypes of all human existence.
Most of the stories have been previously published in such national magazines as Sports Illustrated, True, Life, Today’s Health, and Sport. In “White Bread and Baseball,” the author chronicles his own boyhood infatuation with the minor-league Birmingham Barons, while in “Yesterday’s Hero” he details the sad end of a former All-American football player named Bob Suffridge, a portrait of a lion in winter. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad Whirl” covers nights on the road with the roller derby, and “Saturday Night at Dixie Speedway” captures all the raucous glory of a stock-car dirt track under the hot lights. “Big Night, Big City” tells of an anxious, small-town high school basketball team facing their crucial chance for glory at a state tournament in Atlanta, and the classic “Mister Cobb” details a personal lesson on sliding the young author received from “the greatest player in the history of baseball.”
These stories are often bittersweet, emotional, and mythic: little dramas bearing impact and psychological “size.” Some of them are distinctively “Dixie,” but they ultimately transcend time and place. Frye Gaillard, author of Kyle at 200 MPH: A Sizzling Season in the Petty-NASCAR Dynasty, writes, “For more than 30 years, Paul Hemphill has been one of the finest writers in the South, and I think he proves it again in this collection. He exudes a natural feel for the players and the game, drawing out the real-life themes of struggle and desire, occasional triumph, and the omnipresent possibilities of heartache and failure.”
Triumphant wins, gut-wrenching losses, last-second shots, underdogs, competition, and loyalty—it’s fun to be a fan. But when a football player takes a hit to the head after yet another study has warned of the dangers of CTE, or when a team whose mascot was born in an era of racism and bigotry takes the field, or when a relief pitcher accused of domestic violence saves the game, how is one to cheer? Welcome to the club for sports fans who care too much.
In Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back, acclaimed sports writers Jessica Luther and Kavitha A. Davidson tackle the most pressing issues in sports, why they matter, and how we can do better. For the authors, “sticking to sports” is not an option—not when our taxes are paying for the stadiums, and college athletes aren’t getting paid at all. But simply quitting a favorite team won’t change corrupt and deplorable practices, and the root causes of many of these problems are endemic in our wider society. An essential read for modern fans, Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back challenges the status quo and explores how we might begin to reconcile our conscience with our fandom.