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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Favorite Sports Books

June 5, 2013

Late last season we ran through some popular football books – Alabama, College, and Pro.  To round out the topic we’ll highlight some popular non-football books.  Same rules apply, this is a partial list and we welcome your feedback and recommentations.

 

* note, the links below are affiliate links.  If you decide to purchase from these links, we may receive a small referral – at no cost to you.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball.  Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only “the single most influential baseball book ever” (Rob Neyer, Slate) but also what “may be the best book ever written on business” (Weekly Standard).

 

 

The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership

The Essential Wooden is the ultimate collection of Wooden’s opinions and observations on achieving exceptional leadership in any organization, with 200 invaluable lessons for inspiring championship performance.

Coach Wooden offers his hard-won wisdom on building an organization that performs at its full potential under pressure, from preparing and training the team to instilling personal drive and dedication.  He takes his famous Pyramid of Success to the next level, filling the entire book with his straight-shooting personality and keen insight on human nature.

From Wooden’s earliest days as a leader through his legendary UCLA dynasty, The Essential Wooden distills a lifetime of learning into the leadership playbook for the twenty-first century.

 

 

Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship

Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell were must-see TV long before that phrase became ubiquitous.  Individually interesting, together they were mesmerizing.  They were profoundly different — young and old, black and white, a Muslim and a Jew, Ali barely literate and Cosell an editor of his university’s law review.  Yet they had in common forces that made them unforgettable: Both were, above all, performers who covered up their deep personal insecurities by demanding — loudly and often — public acclaim.  Theirs was an extraordinary alliance that produced drama, comedy, controversy, and a mutual respect that helped shape both men’s lives.

 

 

The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players

 Not only is Pat Riley one of pro basketball’s winningest coaches, but his speeches before hundreds of corporations, from ARCO to AT&T to Toyota, have earned him the title of “America’s Greatest Motivational Speaker.”  The Winner Within is his formula for success . It is a book about winning, leadership, mastery, change, and personal growth, based on understanding and controlling the shifting dynamics of a team – any team, whether it is a small company or a giant corporation, a family, a city, or a group of athletes.  How does a struggling team form a covenant to work together instead of separately?  How does a successful team battle complacency?  How does any team overcome the thunderbolts that strike out of the blue?  Drawing upon the great teachers and his own experiences in and out of sports, interweaving them with dozens of parallels and stories from business and society, Riley shows how to ride the cycles of team change, balance role players and stars, build solid foundations, break through self-imposed barriers, create change within continuity, and nurture cooperation within competition.

 

 

The Boys of Summer

This is a book about young men who learned to play baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, and then went on to play for one of the most exciting major-league ball clubs ever fielded, the team that broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson.  It is a book by and about a sportswriter who grew up near Ebbets Field, and who had the good fortune in the 1950s to cover the Dodgers for the Herald Tribune.  This is a book about what happened to Jackie, Carl Erskine, Pee Wee Reese, and the others when their glory days were behind them.  In short, it is a book about America, about fathers and sons, prejudice and courage, triumph and disaster, and told with warmth, humor, wit, candor, and love.

 

 

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching

For forty years, Dean Smith coached the University of North Carolina basketball team with unsurpassed success.  Now, in The Carolina Way, he explains his coaching philosophy and shows readers how to apply it to the leadership and team-building challenges they face in their own lives.  In his wry, sensible, wise way, Coach Smith takes us through every aspect of his program, illustrating his insights with vivid stories.  Accompanying each of Coach Smith’s major points is a “Player Perspective” from a former North Carolina basketball star and an in-depth “Business Perspective” from Gerald D. Bell, a world-renowned leadership consultant and a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.  The keystones of Coach Smith’s coaching philosophy are widely applicable and centrally relevant to building successful teams of any kind.

 

 

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream

Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa–the winningest high-school football team in Texas history.  Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going.  Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bust path of the oil business.  In bad times, the unemployment rate barrels out of control; in good times, its murder rate skyrockets.  But every Friday night from September to December, when the Permian High School Panthers play football, this West Texas town becomes a place where dreams can come true.  With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger chronicles a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires–and sometimes shatters–the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms.

 

 

The Game
 Widely acknowledged as the best hockey book ever written and lauded by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 10 Sports Books of All Time, The Game is a reflective and thought-provoking look at a life in hockey. Intelligent and insightful, former Montreal Canadiens goalie and former President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Dryden captures the essence of the sport and what it means to all hockey fans.  He gives us vivid and affectionate portraits of the characters — Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, and coach Scotty Bowman among them — that made the Canadiens of the 1970s one of the greatest hockey teams in history.  But beyond that, Dryden reflects on life on the road, in the spotlight, and on the ice, offering up a rare inside look at the game of hockey and an incredible personal memoir.  This commemorative edition marks the 20th anniversary of The Game’s original publication.  It includes black and white photography from the Hockey Hall of Fame and a new chapter from the author.  Take a journey to the heart and soul of the game with this timeless hockey classic.

 

 

The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship

The Teammates is the profoundly moving story of four great baseball players who have made the passage from sports icons — when they were young and seemingly indestructible — to men dealing with the vulnerabilities of growing older.  At the core of the book is the friendship of these four very different men — Boston Red Sox teammates Bobby Doerr, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams — who remained close for more than sixty years.

The book starts out in early October 2001, when Dominic DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky begin a 1,300-mile trip by car to visit their beloved friend Ted Williams, whom they know is dying.  Bobby Doerr, the fourth member of this close group — “my guys,” Williams used to call them — is unable to join them.  Doerr is back in Oregon tending to his wife of sixty-three years, who has suffered a second stroke.  Acclaimed author David Halberstam has given us a book — filled with historical details and first-hand accounts — about baseball and about something more, the richness of friendship.

 

 

Mind Gym : An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence

Drawing on his work with some of the top teams in professional sports, noted sport psychology consultant Gary Mack shares with you the same techniques and exercises he uses to help elite athletes build mental “muscle.”  These 40 accessible lessons and inspirational anecdotes will help you gain the “head edge” over the competition.

 

 

The Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, the Highest Jump, and the Limits of Athletic Performance

Until 1954, common wisdom and scientific knowledge considered a sub-four-minute mile an impossible feat for a human.  But then Roger Bannister broke that mark, followed quickly by a host of other athletes.  Today the world record stands at 3 minutes, 43 seconds, yet even that number doesn’t tell the full story of how fast humans can run a mile—records are a mark of how well people have done, not how well they can do.  What’s the actual limit?  The answer lies in The Perfection Point.

In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, John Brenkus, the host, co-creator, and executive producer of ESPN’s Sport Science, ventures across the sports world to provide an in-depth look at the absolute limits of human performance.  Beginning with the current world records for a variety of sports, Brenkus finds the “perfection point” for each, zeroing in on the speeds, heights, distances, and times that humans will get closer to but never exceed.

Combining cutting-edge science with the fundamentals of each sport, Brenkus answers questions as old as competition itself, exploring the outer realm of what’s possible in athletics.
Intriguing, detailed, and controversial, the answers that Brenkus provides are essential reading for every sports fan.  For years, coaches, pundits, and experts have speculated about the extremes of human ability.  The Perfection Point finally provides the answers.