A unique collaborative effort from the worldwide leader in sports, this beautifully illustrated volume featuring original essays by some of North America's most renowned writers shows what sports means to North America and why it continues to matter. Beginning with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, the book includes ten chapters, each with an essay on the athlete(s) who best defined a particular decade, as well as sidebar essays on each of the other athletes named by ESPN's sports experts as the 100 Greatest Athletes of the Century. Each chapter concludes with a Playbook that provides memorable stories and much more.
David Halberstam's introduction sets the tone for this sweeping look at the players and moments that have defined athletic competition in the 1900s: "Throughout the century," he observes, "sports ... served as a remarkable reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of the nation--its diversity, its hungers, its excesses, its rank commercialism." Divided into decades, each section begins with a long, smart appreciation--illustrated to the gills--of the period's seminal sports figure. The lineup on both ends of the equation is powerful: Among the pairings are Robert W. Creamer on Babe Ruth, Wilfred Sheed on Joe Louis and Babe Didrikson, Dick Schaap on Johnny Unitas, and Joyce Carol Oates on Ali. Still, there's more. The significant players and memorable moments of each decade are put into focus. For example, while Ruth clearly defines and dominates the '20s, Bill Tilden, Red Grange, Knute Rockne, and Bobby Jones are given shorter profiles, and key events range from the great Dempsey-Firpo fight of 1923 to Johnny Weismuller's domination of Olympic swimming. For off-the-field context, chartlike presentations encapsulate historical to cultural happenings.
Attractive, comprehensive, and neatly designed, ESPN SportsCentury is a classy tribute to the sporting achievements of the last 100 years. --Jeff Silverman