Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jeremy Schaap's 5 best books on the Olympics

For the Wall Street Journal, ESPN's Jeremy Schaap named a five best list of books on the Olympics.

One title on the list:
The Amateurs
by David Halberstam
Morrow, 1985

In "The Amateurs," David Halberstam makes rowers as interesting as he had previously made cabinet secretaries and point guards. His account of the competition to represent the U.S. in rowing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics is brilliantly realized; he ponders why anyone would punish himself the way rowers do. That they often come from comfortable Ivy League backgrounds yet choose an uncelebrated sport defined by suffering fascinates Halberstam. "One could understand the son of a ghetto family playing in the schoolyard for six hours a day hoping that basketball was a ticket out of the slum," he writes. "It was hard to understand the son of Beacon Hill spending so much time and subjecting himself to so much pain to attain an honor that no one even understood. Perhaps in our society the true madness in the search for excellence is left for the amateur." If you read the book, you will probably learn to appreciate rowing -- or at least respect those who suffer for it. You might even find yourself watching the Olympic rowing competition. From there, it's just a hop, step and jump -- now called the triple jump -- to official Olympic junkiedom.
Read about another title to make Schaap's list.

--Marshal Zeringue