Schaap, Dick, ed. The Best American Sports Writing: 2000. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 309 pp.
This is a rather odd choice for me – although I love sports, especially football and baseball, I’ve never been a fan of sports books. In fact, I can hardly remember ever reading any sports books before. Recently, checking out one of those discount book stalls at a train station while waiting to take a long trip, I saw this book on sale for a few bucks. On a whim, looking for some light reading, I picked it up. And you know what? I can’t remember being so pleased with a similar impulse purchase. What made me so happy? Rather than dreary bios of Mark McGwire or Wayne Gretzky, the book is full of the unexpected. It . It leads off with a great essay on Australia’s 1999 Sydney-to-Hobart yaught race that got caught up in a huge storm. It’s an exciting and suspenseful tale of failure, death, destruction, heroic rescue, rich men with huge egos and, of course, the indifference of nature to human existence. In a weird way, the whole thing strikes me as being rather similar to a lot of the rescue-in-a-harsh-environment-against-impossible-odds space operas out there. Other notable essays are about cockfighting, high stakes poker, skateboarder Tony Hawk, machine gun shooting, the making of the film Any Given Sunday and, of course, Evel Knievel’s son, Robbie. Interestingly, this book has one item from a Canadian publication.