This week’s Booking Through Thursday questions: Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both? Do you consider yourself a sports fan?…(Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)
Books I’ve read about Olympians?
Only one comes to mind and I’m not sure of the title, but I know it was about Jim Thorpe, who in my mind was the greatest athlete in American history, bar none. Not only did he win Olympic medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden (of which he was stripped because of amateur rule violations and later reinstated), but also went on to play football, baseball and basketball.
Interestingly while Googling Thorpe, I came across another Jim Thorpe who plays golf on the PGA tour.
Other sports books, movies, fiction and non-fiction:
Books and movies: Among sports books that I’ve read, both fiction and non-fiction, are both of the aforementioned, The Natural by Bernard Malamud and Friday Night Lightss by H.G. Bissinger, with probably the movie Friday Night Lights being closer to the book than the movie The Natural was to the book. From what I remember of Malamud’s book, which I believe I read more than 15 years ago for a books to movie course in college, it was very surreal, and not anything like the movie. However, I do remember I enjoyed it.
On the flip side, a baseball book on which another movie was based that I did not enjoy was Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. It was the inspiration for Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. I felt the movie was far superior to the book in that its focus was more on the magical elements.
Another one of my favorite baseball movies is Eight Men Out with a great cast of ensemble actors which I didn’t realize was based on a book, by Eliot Asinof.
(Personally, to answer the question if I’m a sports fan, I used to enjoy many professional sports, but every year with every scandal that comes along– including those at the Olympics, I am becoming less and less interested in sports. I call myself a fan of the Yankees, Jeff Gordon, the Steelers, but I’m becoming more and more disenchanted with watching sports of any kind. Not to mention that my wife and I don’t have cable or satellite. That said, I’ve joined a fantasy football league, so I still hang on somewhat.)
As for movies, in recent years, one of my favorite sports movies is Remember The Titans with Denzel Washington. I could — and have watched– this movie a hundred times. When it first came out in the theaters, I think I saw it at least four times, each time after the first, pulling family members to see it.
I’ll leave you with a quote from that movie, from Coach Boone:
This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.