Help me find some good (smart) books about sports and sport fans.
October 4, 2006 9:54 PM   Subscribe

I want to read some good books about sports sociology.

I recently finished Franklin Foer's excellent How Soccer Explains the World and would like to read some other books analyzing sports culture and fandom. I've already read Among the Thugs, Friday Night Lights. and The Last Good Season.

I would like some recommendations to find some new books that analyze sports, sports fans and sports teams in a larger context and are damn readable. George Plimpton just ain't enough. Help.
posted by huskerdont to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's not new, but in this vein you'd be remiss if you ignored Fever Pitch. It's more personal, but really good. Also a great book about the Cape Cod Baseball League (the nation's premiere summer league) is The Last Best League.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:16 PM on October 4, 2006

Oh, and Seth Mnookin's Feeding the Monster is a great recent book about the ownership and front office of the Boston Red Sox. It runs from the fascinating story of the sale of the team in 2001 to Young Theo and his gorilla costume in late 2005 (and has a nice condensed history of the franchise at the beginning).
posted by Rock Steady at 10:20 PM on October 4, 2006

These aren't about analysis of fans, but they're serious interesting analytical books about baseball:

Moneyball by Michael Lewis was the big baseball analysis bestseller of a couple of years ago.

Andrew Zimbalist is the top guy to read about the economics of major league sports; I'm not sure which book though.

On the labor relations in baseball (free agency and how it changed the game, etc): Lords of the Realm by John Helyar and The End of Baseball as We Knew It by Charles Korr.

If you're serious about stats, Baseball Prospectus is the publication you want, and The Diamond Appraised is a good introductory book.

Other general things to read: Ball Four by Jim Bouton, if you haven't read it. If you're interested in the history at all, the New Bill James Baseball Abstract. Veeck: As In Wreck. And watch Ken Burns' huge long baseball documentary; so worth it. The Chrysanthemum and the Bat is a cool book about Japanese baseball, a bit out of date now. Summer of '49 for a historical pennant race.

From the fan's perspective: Faithful by Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan, about their experience of the 2004 Red Sox seaason.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:17 AM on October 5, 2006

It is more about individual sports, cycling in particular, but The Rider by Tim Krabbe is one of my favorite books. It really captures the essence and attraction of participatory sports.
posted by Manjusri at 12:54 AM on October 5, 2006

Maybe the Best American Sports Writing anthologies can point you in some good directions.
posted by callmejay at 2:20 AM on October 5, 2006

Globalization and Sport: Playing the world was pretty good.
posted by goo at 2:47 AM on October 5, 2006

Muscle: A Writer's Trip Through a Sport With No Boundaries by Jon Hotten is about the bodybuilding subculture and is a compelling read (the Amazon editorial review is a little breathless, but it's a great book on a topic I wouldn't have previously thought interesting). Gary Imlach's book My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. His list of sports books here looks useful. You might like this piece for the London Review of Books about the soccer manager Jose Mourinho written by a politics professor. Also google some of Benjamin Markovits' articles on basketball - he's a serious novelist and poet but was briefly a professional player. (I loved his piece for the LRB but that's subscription only but there's lots of other stuff out there.)
posted by boudicca at 4:10 AM on October 5, 2006

Richard Williams' writing is excellent for getting into the psychology of sport; he's the Chief Sports writer for the Guardian newspaper in the UK and has written several excellent books about motorsport that do a great job of placing racing in historical and cultural context, and also looking at the psychology of speed.

His book Racers is an excellent example of this; it begins as analysis of the end of the 1996 F1 season but soon expands to take in the death of Senna and the development of F1 itself. His biography of Enzo Ferrari is also very good on the development of motor racing and how it change from being road races run by real characters to the more corporate institution of today.
posted by Sifter at 4:15 AM on October 5, 2006

I liked Now I Can Die In Peace by Bill Simmons.
posted by LouMac at 5:32 AM on October 5, 2006

Check out "Home Game: Hockey and Life in Canada".
posted by yqxnflld at 6:22 AM on October 5, 2006

Taboo by Jon Entine. Disregard the numerous copy errors.
posted by joeclark at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2006

Judging from reviews and news articles I saw, Freakonomics offered some interesting insights into sports and society. Search the blog for sports items, too.
posted by mediareport at 8:34 PM on October 5, 2006

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