Best Longform Sports Stories

1. Mike Tyson

I love this story about Mike Tyson. Sports Illustrated uncovers all of Mike Tyson’s boxing success- beginning to end. He even mentions some of his later work, like his brief appearance in the movie The Hangover. I think he does a great job at really digging deeper into all of these decisions made by Tyson and just respecting what a good boxer he is. It’s definitely something sports fans should read.

2. Watching Rocky II With Muhammad Ali

This is Roger Ebert’s interesting encounter with watching Rocky movies with the greatest boxer of all time. Muhammad Ali is hilarious throughout Ebert’s story, at one point he relates to Rocky’s opponent Apollo. Apollo is the heavyweight champion who is taunting Rocky in the ring. I think Ali has a great sense of humor and I love this story.

3. Young, Gifted, and Homeless

I love how this article talks about some famous successful athletes who have openly talked about their past with homelessness. Sports Illustrated asks, “Well it’s great that these guys who are now successful are talking about it, but what about the kids living through it now?” They explore a high school boy who sees sports as an escape from his life of being homeless. And he’s not alone, the article also discusses the fact that this is an issue that’s only gotten worse over the years. It’s interesting to see things from their points of view.

4. The One And Only

This is a rather depressing story about Dan Marino and how he never won a Super Bowl. His one and only chance of winning one was against Joe Montana and the 49’ers. The Dolphins seemed to be on top but the 49’ers came back in the second half and pretty much blew Miami out. It was devastating to Marino and it still haunts him to this day. He figured he’d get a chance to go back considering he was still young at the time, but he never did. I just thought it was really interesting how such a successful quarterback considers himself not the best because he never won a Super Bowl.

5. Following Terry Fox

I’ve already talked about Terry Fox- a Canadian who ran across Canada on one leg raising money for the Cancer Foundation. However, this is a more recent article that shows the impact that this one man had on millions of people. The documentary began to touch on the reaction from the people who began paying attention to what Fox was doing, but it failed to really go in depth and tell the stories of people that Terry touched. Even after he died, his legacy continued to live on and it’s still doing just that even today. You’ll definitely be inspired after reading this.

6. The Man In The Van

Easily the best baseball profile I’ve read so far during this early start to the official season. The opening line of the story says it all, “The future of the Toronto Blue Jays wakes up in a 1978 Volkswagen camper behind the dumpsters at a Wal-mart and wonders if he has anything to eat.” It really paints a picture of how Daniel Norris is receiving so much hype about what he does on the field but off the field he likes living the life of a minimalist. It isn’t a dramatic story but it’s a fascinating one that really kept me interested in his story.

 

Best Sports Articles

There’s something special about sports articles. To be a good one, the reporter has to be involved in the lives of the athletes. These authors in the following magazine articles went above and beyond that expectation and wrote some of the best articles of all time.

1. Crime and Punishment by Gary Smith

By far my favorite piece of sports writing of all time. Richie Parker was a high school basketball player who found his dreams of being a college basketball player shattered when one moment beneath the school stairwells changed everything. The interesting thing about this story is how everything affects everything. It didn’t just change Richie’s life, it changed the lives of journalists, principals, coaches, and other authority figures. It’s written in such a flawless way and you get wrapped up in the lives of every character.

2. Life goes on for Lance Armstrong by Rick Reilly

This story is heartbreaking and personal. Reilly went above and beyond the call of duty by following Lance Armstrong around and also defending him against steroid allegations for years. The story uncovers a lot of information and you can’t help but sympathize with Rick Reilly.

3. The Final Walk-Off by J.R. Moehringer

Derek Jeter is one of the best baseball players my generation has seen. I love how in-depth and thoughtful this story really is. It’s a terribly long article but it’s worth the read. I’ve never been a big fan of Jeter as a person but this story was able to shed a light on how awesome the baseball player actually is.

4. In The Nick of Time by Rick Bragg

Despite the totally awful pun, the title and the article gives us serious insight on how much the state of Alabama needed Nick Saban. It’s crazy to me how obsessed these fans are. But football is really the big thing that gets people together in the state. Saban was able to satisfy the people of Alabama by his arrival. It’s a fascinating story filled with many quotations and personal stories.

5. The Left Arm of God by Tom Verducci

I love the story of the legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax. So naturally, this story really appealed to me. In my humble opinion, the introduction to this story is by far one of the best I’ve ever read. It paints such a vivid picture for you of a man who’s no longer a star, he’s just like an ordinary guy who doesn’t get much attention.

6. Heroes For Sale by Brin-Jonathan Butler

This is a lovely profile of a former Cuban boxer who proved that money isn’t the most important thing in life. This Cuban boxer, Teófilo Stevenson, once said, “What is a million dollars compared to the love of eight million people?” Stevenson was one of the few boxers who was able to stand a chance against Ali. The profile does a great job at connecting the boxer with the number one most famous Cuban athlete Yasiel Puig and both of them with Cuba in general.

7. Federer As Religious Experience by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace is one of the best authors I’ve ever read. He doesn’t just scratch the surface of what he writes about, he digs in as deep as he can possibly get. He’s known more for his essay on lobster and his classically long book, “Infinite Jest.” Beyond that, he was also an amazing sportswriter. More specifically, he was a beautiful writer about tennis. He was a serious tennis player growing up and it’s clear he knows a lot about this sport that he loves. This essay provides us with a perspective about Federer that we’ve never looked at before.

8. Higher Education by Gary Smith

Gary Smith tells the story of a black basketball coach teaching in Ohio’s Amish country. This story goes beyond basketball and creates empathy within the readers. It also is the rare type of story that causes us to actually put ourselves in the characters shoes. Just read how perfect this sentence right here is, “They knew in their bones how small his wrath was, held up against his love.” It’s simple yet beautiful and compelling.

9. Special Team by Rick Reilly

No story could be more heartwarming as this one. Rick Reilly tells a story about Chy Johnson, a girl from the small town of Queen Creek Arizona who was being bullied at school. This quote explains it all, “Chy’s brain works at only a third-grade level because of a genetic birth defect, but she knew enough to feel hate.” Her mom noticed how sad her daughter seemed to be so she contacted the starting quarterback on the school’s football team, he and the other football players began a beautiful friendship that is extremely touching.

10. Mutant by Luke Dittrich

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet. This profile of him is the best I’ve read. It goes deeper into what motivates this athlete and it gets personal – maybe too personal but it’s still insanely detailed. This is a must read for all of you that have heard his name but don’t know his story.

 

 

Welcome to April

Wow, it’s hard to believe that it’s already April. This year has flown by so quickly and now I’m nearly done with my freshman year of college. That is equally awesome and also very terrifying. I’m really excited about this month, even though I already mentioned that it may bore some of you to death. I’ve always been a big fan of sports. Like it or not, it’s a big part of our society as a whole and there are so many books, movies, TV shows, songs, and much more about the subject of sport.

I’ve chosen this month because sports are important to me. I’m like the least athletic person on the planet. However, I love sports because it’s something that I’ve always loved watching. The games of football, basketball, and baseball have always fascinated me. The lives of the athletes and how whatever game I’m watching is played in general has managed to fascinate me endlessly.

This month, I hope to tell you stories. Some of these stories about big sports scandals or profiles on hot shot athletes are things you know a lot about. My personal stories about growing up at the baseball field and having absolutely zero athletic ability are some things you won’t know. I hope my own personal spin on things will make the theme more interesting for everyone. Take care!