My life these days revolves around two things: work and baseball. You guys know all about the work part but I bet you had no idea that when I’m not in the office baseball consumes every other aspect of my waking day. That’s because I have an eight-year-old who’s obsessed with America’s pastime and who is currently playing for a little league and a travel team. That’s a lot of sitting on bleachers during an unusually cold, damp spring watching little boys drop routine fly balls, have meltdowns on the pitcher’s mound, and swagger like miniature Reggie Jacksons when they finally get a hit.
So, of course, this baseball immersion has me thinking about sports books. I can reel off a dozen great baseball titles off the top of my head, from Roger Kahn’s classic The Boys of Summer to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wistful Wait Till Next Year to Chad Harbach’s acclaimed The Art of Fielding, but I have a harder time with other sports. Sure, every once in a while there’s a great book about football (Friday Night Lights) or soccer (Fever Pitch) or basketball (Hoop Dreams) or mountain climbing (Into Thin Air), but the conventional wisdom among publishing people is that baseball is the sport that sells books.
Is this a case of publishers not knowing how to reach other sports fans and making the backward assumption that those fans just don’t read, or is it that fans of other sports aren’t as interested in reading about their favorite sport? Is it that baseball sparks writers’ imagination to a greater degree than, say, tennis (the pace of baseball, soporific as it can be, does allows for a lot of contemplation and rumination)? Is it that women buy more books than men and there are more female baseball fans (given how many women friends I have who are rabid about football and basketball, I doubt this)?
We like sports books around here and we’d like to do more of them. But, help us out. What sports do you like to read about and why? What are your favorite titles and what do you wish there was more of in this category?