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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Bigger Than the Game

I'm going a little outside of my area of expertise with this post.  I am, by no means, a literary expert.  But, I found Bigger Than The Game by Michael Weinreb to be so fascinating that I just had to share it with Banshee Sports readers.  I first became aware of Michael Weinreb through his posts on Grantland.com.  His bio on that site indicated that Weinreb is the author of two books.  I enjoyed his online columns so much that I purchased Bigger Than the Game.  

In the promotional materials, Bigger Than the Game is described as "a mesmerizing look at sports in the 1980s - when athletes became superstars, mavericks replaced heroes, and sports moved to the forefront of American culture."  My summary would be that the book is primarily a look at American culture in the 1980's as reflected in the sports world.  Weinreb focuses primarily on Brian Bosworth, Jim McMahon, Len Bias and Bo Jackson.  He deftly weaves his narrative about these athletes into the overall cultural tapestry the Reagan era.  When the book states that it is a "look" at the world, that is entirely accurate.  It is not a "commentary."  Weinreb recounts the events of the sporting world and places them into a historical context, but he does not comment on the morality or wisdom of the economic and social trends of the day.  This leaves the reader with much to think about and discuss.

The reason that I was particularly captivated by this book is that it takes place during my formative years as a sports fan and as a person.  I am not sure how meaningful this book would be to readers who are not old enough to remember the mid 80's.  But, if you do remember the "The Super Bowl Shuffle" and recognize the phrase "Bo knows," then you will find reading Bigger Than the Game to be time well-spent.