7 sports books to read during self-isolation

Thomas Williams
Hockey writer
Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports explains how the Philadelphia 76ers lost on purpose and eventually rebuilt their team. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

During this time of self-isolation due to the outbreak of COVID-19, there’s nothing really better to do than curl up on the couch and enjoy a book on your favourite sport.

So the next time you find yourself craving a good sports read, do yourself a favour and dive into one of these seven.

Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History — Mike Pesca, various authors

Nothing will pass the time more than pondering some of the most pivotal moments in sports history. Whether it’s wondering if what the NFL landscape would look like if Tom Brady didn’t step in and take over for Drew Bledsoe as New England Patriots quarterback in 2001, or how Wayne Gretzky becoming eligible for the 1979 NHL Entry Draft created a monumental trickle-down effect for talent through a great NHL era — there’s endless possibilities within each of Upon Further Review’s 31 hypotheticals, written by different sportswriters across the industry.

With every story, a lengthy discussion could be had outside of this book’s pages. The conversation that can lead to passionate debate can really take up your time in an entertaining and educational way.

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team — Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

If going on a journey with two smart baseball writers as they put their sabremetric theories to the test on the field of an independent league team in Northern California is more your style, then The Only Rule Is It Has To Work will certainly bring you joy.

Conflicts with team staff, individual players’ unbelievable stories as they try to achieve big-league dreams, and of course, math, is what makes up most of this excellent read.

Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life — Nick Hornby

Living with no sports in our lives for the first time, Nick Hornby provides an essential read on experience as a fan.

Through his explanation of how being a fan of Arsenal got him through challenging times in his life, Hornby deals with his fandom as an unhealthy addiction used to cope. Fever Pitch is an honest recollection of fandom and an experience of being in a community of supporters, without all the frills.

While we don’t have sports to watch, it might be best to really get at the root of why we’re so obsessed with the games in the first place.

Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports — Yaron Weitzman

A sports franchise that has had soap opera-esque drama through its recent existence has been well capsulated in Yaron Weitzman’s Tanking to the Top.

Going through the Sam Hinkie era of playing some of the worst basketball we have ever laid our eyes on, to eventually becoming one of the top teams in the NBA, this books lays it all out for you.

Weitzman gathered over 175 interviews and is able to detail the jaw-dropping story of what the Sixers went through to become the team they are today.

I Am Nobody: Confronting the Predatory Coach Who Stole My Life — Greg Gilhooly

A chilling recollection of his time as a young hockey player coached under the predator coach Graham James, Greg Gilhooly provides an immensely detailed memoir of his abuse.

Not the most uplifting story to read during self-isolation, but if you’re in need of an emotionally gripping true story of how hockey culture ruined a man’s life, then I Am Nobody is worth picking up.

The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling — David Shoemaker

Organized by era, The Squared Circle goes beyond any other standard book about professional wrestling and dives deep into the true meaning of the sport and the cultural impact it has had.

It paints wrestling in a beautiful and artistic picture that is rare for such a ham-fisted spectacle at times. Shoemaker, a former Deadspin and Grantland writer who is now at The Ringer, rings out his pop culture towel and really gets to the heart of why so many love professional wrestling.

Fan or not, this will certainly start or rekindle a passion for the sport that is seemingly the last major event still going on.

Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion — Roger Angell

Roger Angell is the kind of writer that you soak in every word they write like its the last one you’ll ever read. In Season Ticket — and all of his writings on the sport in general — he makes you fall back in love with the sport and fully understand the surrounding culture that he personally experienced.

This particular work is a collection of articles written by Angell for The New Yorker between 1984 and 1987 and it is not outdated one bit. Despite the poetic nature of his writing, it provides enough entertainment to really dig deep into how baseball threads its way through life.

Angell has a total of seven books on the sport and in any one of them, you can admire his enticing prose while stuck inside on your couch.

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