Labor Day in the United States is being observed today, and I thought I’d use the occasion to select some blog posts that I truly enjoyed putting together.
What I discovered wasn’t surprising: The posts that were the most fun to write and ponder were those that best exemplified the intersection of sports and creativity that I try to explore here.
So not included in this collection are posts about the contentious issues of gender and sports, steroids and social issues (with a few exceptions). They tend to be about sports books I found truly pleasurable, sports history and artistic expressions of sports.
What connects all of these posts, in spite of the vast array of topics, is that they never felt like “work” when I was researching and writing them. The discovery of the ideas, the sources and the links were so easily immersive at times I got lost in what I was doing.
I will say that some of the topics I’m most impassioned about that I write here — especially about women in sports — have resulted in some of my strongest work. But I can’t say I always enjoyed it, although I realized how important it was for me to write this. When the posts were finished, I was relieved more than anything. I had engaged in verbal sparring, even combat, and felt satisfied with what I accomplished.
Those who help individuals along the path of professional full-time blogging are careful to point out that it’s easy to start a blog, but very hard to sustain one. I’ve certainly found that out here, although this isn’t a for-profit endeavor. What I attempt every time I sit down is to delve into the joy of examining sports topics that have become this blog’s stock-in-trade. At times it seems uneven and inconsistent, but I don’t regret having a broad approach. It’s something of a glorious mess that has brought me quite a bit of joy.
The result has been a collection of pleasant surprises that I include here for your (I hope) joyful consideration:
• “A month of rereadings: ‘Pafko at the Wall,’ “ Aug. 19, 2010 — In remembrance of Bobby Thomson and the shot ‘heard round the world that formed the scintillating opening for Don DeLillo’s fantastic novel, “Underworld.”
• “Bud Greenspan, equal opportunity Olympic documentarian,” Dec. 26, 2010 — Upon the passing of the man who humanized and celebrated the most obscure athletes as much as the famous ones.
• “Free at last: Letting women’s sports grow up,” July 20, 2011 — The Women’s World Cup proved that female athletes don’t have to be symbols for anything but pure, joyous entertainment.
• “A sportswriting giant: ‘The last of his kind,’ “ Dec. 8, 2011 — A tribute to the larger-than-life George Kimball.
• “The Southern swagger of Kim Mulkey,” April 2, 2012 — The Baylor women’s basketball coach exudes personality, shrewdness and a demanding style, and she isn’t always easy to deal with. But that’s not such a bad thing.
• “RIP Steve Sabol, the football poet,” Sept. 19, 2012 — The creative force behind “NFL Films” is remembered.
• “A few riffs on the culture of Southern football,” Nov. 1, 2012 — My part of the country is better at something than anywhere else, and its development is necessarily caught up in the history of the region.
• “A rare kick of wartime soccer splendor,” Nov. 13, 2012 — Even in the dying days of the Third Reich, a little bit of joy on the pitch was staged as the Allies began advancing from Western Europe.
• “Baseball’s dwinding Romantics,” Jan. 10, 2013 — Those wishing away steroids are noble in their sentiments, but it’s a foolhardy notion to embrace given the game’s history with all kinds of stimulants.
• “The eternal lure and brutal eloquence of football,” Feb. 2, 2013 — It’s easy to bemoan the violent nature of the gridiron but harder to supress the desires of those who seek to participate.
• “The genuflection of the baseball poets,” March 5, 2013 — Verse about the diamond should be avoided at all costs.
• “Saving a museum for a forgotten team,” May 4, 2013 — Efforts to preserve the memories of a baseball club that had few good ones to offer and now competes in a different part of the country.
• “A life in sports letters,” Aug. 16, 2013 — A fitting award for Frank Deford.
• “Baseball cards at the Met,” Aug 23, 2013 — They come with more than just bubblegum — they’re a valuable slice of Americana.
• “Women writers on boxing, gender and culture,” June 28, 2014 — Joyce Carol Oates is unsurpassed, but she has plenty of esteemed company in this category.