Holiday Indulgence: Sport Books & Movies

The city has been so quiet over these last few days. When I was walking to work this morning, it was around 8:50 a.m. and the squirrels were all over Queen’s Park foraging, but there wasn’t a human in sight (other than myself!) I guess everyone was at home sleeping or out shopping.

Anywho, this holiday there are movies and books who can help pass the time and break up the steady stream of holiday outings, movies and songs. Below are my recommendations, my best of the best out of the scads of materials I have read/watched this year (almost all will be available at your local library or online). You may not like everything but you’ll probably enjoy most:

  1. Becoming Westerly: Surf Legend Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina written by Jamie Brisick
  2. Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team directed by Joseph M Lavine and Ouisie Shapiro
  3. Venus and Serena directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major
  4. Hoop Dreams directed by Steve James
  5. Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard written by John Branch
  6. The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians written by Kate Fagan
  7. Moneyball written by Michael Lewis
  8. The Two Escobars directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist
  9. Second Serve: The Renee Richards Story written by Renee Richards with John Ames
  10. Red Army directed by Gabe Polsky
  11. Senna directed by Asif Kapadia
  12. T-Rex directed by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper
  13. Out to Win directed by Malcolm Ingram
  14. Winning Sounds Like This: A Season with the Women’s Basketball Team at Gallaudet, the World’s Only University for the Deaf written by Wayne Coffey
  15. Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women’s Professional Basketball League, 1978-1981 written by Karra Porter
  16. Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports written by Kathrine Switzer
  17. Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League written by Martha Ackmann
  18. Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport written by Anna Krein

Silken Laumann’s Memoir “Unsinkable”

Silken Laumann’s career as a Canadian rower and Olympian was defined by her bronze medal win at the 1992 Summer Olympics, 10 weeks after a rowing accident that shattered her right ankle. Her triumph at the 1992 Games is chronicled in her book Unsinkable where readers are taken through how it happened and her recovery.

However, her book is not only about the accident that defined her career, it’s also about her childhood in Mississauga, her parents complex relationship, her mother’s struggle with trauma and mental illness, and her personal challenges and triumphs. I enjoyed her openness and advocacy, and found the documentation of her mother and their relationship fascinating.

Since retiring from rowing in 1999, Laumann has turned to writing and speaking engagements as her main source of income, which, in reality, is rare for retired-elite-level athletes in Canada, which she readily acknowledges. The lack of financial support Canada offers its athletes, as well as typical struggles that athletes face when transitioning from competition to retirement, is an important conversation too often ignored.

A couple of interesting tidbits: Laumann and retired rower Marnie McBean had a competitive and almost adversarial relationship while part of the Canadian National Rowing Team , and Laumann is married to GoodLife Fitness founder David Patchell-Evans.


Boy On Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard is RIVETING

As part of my reading escapade, I’ve been feverishly reading through Boy On Ice by John Branch, an award-winning sports journalist for the New York Times.

Boy On Ice chronicles the hockey career of Derek Boogaard, an awkward, shy, marginally talented kid from Saskatchewan who, because of his strength and size, was drafted into the NHL as an enforcer. This role, the horrific injuries that accumulated during on-ice fights, and the negligence displayed by NHL staff, led to his self-medication with, and addiction to, prescription drugs. In 2011, a year after signing with the New York Rangers, Boogaard overdosed on a combination of drugs and alcohol – he was 28. His family was devastated and in 2013 filed a lawsuit against the NHL. Just last year, charges were laid in connection with Boogaard’s death.

The book uses Boogaard’s life story as a case study of what can commonly happen to enforcers in the NHL. Branch integrates interviews with family, former teammates and enforcers, as well as history about the role of fighting and violence in professional hockey that has made “the enforcer” a peculiar, misunderstood, dangerous and tragic role.

An essential read for hockey fans or anyone who views sports through a critical and complex lense.