Category Archives: Sports

A Review of Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas

Concussion

by Jeanne Marie Laskas

5-stars

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. After all, how often does a book and a movie come out at the same time. Maybe a Star Wars movie and a novelization of the film, but that isn’t the usual timeframe. Now I understand. The movie is based on an article that Ms. Laskas wrote for GQ magazine. The article was titled “Game Brain”. It was published in 2009. Here is a link to the article on GQ.com, Game Brain.

Ms. Laskas expanded that article, and made it into the story of the man, Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered that there was something seriously wrong with the brain of a star NFL football player, Mike Webster. This book, Concussion, is more than just a summary of evidence of the brain damage that occurs to professional football players. It is the story of one mans struggle to be heard, when one of the most powerful organizations in the United States, the NFL, wanted to bury what he had found.

Ms. Laskas puts Dr. Omalu’s discoveries into perspective. She tells the story of his life, starting in Nigeria, coming to America, and then what happened to him once the NFL wanted to discredit him. She fills the story with direct quotes from Dr. Omalu. But she tells the story behind the quotes. She lets you see the struggles, and feel the pain, and the excitement that his discoveries bring to his life. He feels that he has heard “Iron Mike” talk to him, and needs to tell the world what he said. We all need to listen to this story.

This is an important story that crosses the boundaries of American Professional Football. After reading this book, I wonder if athletes in other sports are suffering from the same sorts of brain damages. Do soccer players do damage when they use their heads to knock the ball into a net. What about rugby and hockey players? Then there are the obvious sports of boxing, wrestling, and MMA fighters. Are these people losing their brain functions? Do they have trouble remembering? Do they have personality changes? Is this what they signed up for? Is sport that important?

I give Concussion 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you know anyone who plays football, soccer, hockey or any other sport that may cause head trauma, you need to read this book. If you don’t, well read it anyway.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Concussion by Jeanne Marie LaskasSoon to be a major motion picture starring Will Smith, Concussion is the riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who made one of the most significant medical discoveries of the twenty-first century, a discovery that challenges the existence of America’s favorite sport and puts Omalu in the crosshairs of football’s most powerful corporation: the NFL.
 
Jeanne Marie Laskas first met the young forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2009, while reporting a story for GQ that would go on to inspire the movie Concussion. Omalu told her about a day in September 2002, when, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, he picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he’d never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster, aka “Iron Mike,” a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest ever to play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen?,Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu’s life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Webster’s brain—proof that Iron Mike’s mental deterioration was no accident but a disease caused by blows to the head that could affect everyone playing the game—was the one truth the NFL wanted to ignore.

Taut, gripping, and gorgeously told, Concussion is the stirring story of one unlikely man’s decision to stand up to a multibillion-dollar colossus, and to tell the world the truth.

Book Details

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1 edition
(November 24, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0812987578
ISBN-13: 978-0812987577
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

Photo: © Scot Goldsmith
Photo: © Scot Goldsmith

 

Jeanne Marie Laskas is the author of seven books, including Concussion, Hidden America, and The Exact Same Moon. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, and many other publications. Laskas serves as director of The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, and she lives on a horse farm in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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A Review of The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho by Diego Torres

The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho

by Diego Torres

How much of this book is true? I don’t know. Does Diego Torres have some secret sources inside of Real Madrid that gave him information that nobody else has? I don’t know that either. Could this picture of Jose Mourinho be true? You will have to decide for yourself.

Diego Torres writes about events that happened inside of the Real Madrid locker room that have never been talked about. He talks about a Jose Mourinho that nobody has seen. He tells how Jose Mourinho would use mind games to try to enhance his own image, while tarnishing his players. He says that Jose Mourinho would favor the players that had Jorge Mendes as an agent. He says that everything was manipulated so that Jose Mourinho would come out looking good no matter how badly he was at coaching Real Madrid. There are so many interesting stories in this book about what went on during the time Jose Mourinho was at Real Madrid, I just wonder which ones are true and what is fiction. Did Diego Torres make up some of the stories, or was he fed misinformation by his moles? Or maybe it’s all true.

If you check out the opinions that have come out across the internet about this book, it seems that the majority of people think that Diego Torres has an ax to grind. Most people take this book as a work of fiction with a few facts thrown in for good measure, but if they are wrong, and Diego is telling the whole truth about Jose Mourinho, then he is one crazy SOB. We will have to see what comes out from his time at Chelsea.

How can I rate this book? I’m not sure how much to believe. Do I rate it as an expose or as a novel? I think that I will give it 3 Stars out of 5.

If you follow football (soccer), especially the European leagues, then you probably would like to read this, just so that you can discuss it with your friends. If you couldn’t care less, then just move on, because you won’t have any interest.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

The Special One- The Dark Side of Jose MourinhoAn explosive and shocking biography of Jose Mourinho – revealing the dark side of ‘the special one’.

When José Mourinho announced his return to English football, it sparked celebrations from fans and press alike. As one of the most charismatic figures in the game, his reappearance could surely only be a good thing…

But is there a darker side to the Mourinho? A mischievous, scheming, even tyrannical quality to the man beneath the veneer of charm?

As part of El Pais, Diego Torres is one of the premier investigative journalists in Spanish football, and in this explosive biography of ‘the special one’ he uncovers secrets and lies that will change the way we see Mourinho.

From dodgy dealings to assassinations of players both outside and within his own team, and other shocking revelations, Prepare To Lose reveals Mourinho as a man far removed from the hero so many people consider him to be.

Book Details

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: HarperSport (January 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 000755303X
ISBN-13: 978-0007553037
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

Diego Torres is the journalist that uncovers Real Madrid’s most hidden secrets. The man assigned to cover the Merengues for Spanish newspaper El País, has a close relationship with key members of the club’s locker room and executives and is always one step ahead to reveal the well kept secrets of the team that divides the world of soccer.

Born in Medoza, Argentina, law student during his first years in Madrid, Torres surrendered to his passion for sports journalism and since 1997 has been a special collaborator for SER, BBC and Canal Plus. (Quoted from “The man who uncovers Mourinho’s secrets” by Fernando Céspedes.)

The book description and details are from Amazon. The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho

A review of Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell by Chas Smith

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to HellWelcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing

by Chas Smith

Chas Smith is a real piece of work. He is very full of himself. He thinks that his style is the only style that anyone should wear. He is truly the hippest man on the planet (in his own mind, anyway). You will probably be really annoyed with him. You might even hate him, but he wrote a good book.

This book is supposed to be about surfing, but really most of the time Chas Smith is talking about Chas Smith. He really likes himself. This can get under your skin, because you won’t like him nearly as much as Chas Smith likes himself.

Once you get past screaming at Chas for the stupid stuff he is saying and settle down and get your blood pressure under control, (this took me about a third of the book) you get to learn some very eye-opening things about what goes on during the Winter on Oahu’s North Shore. This is when the biggest, scariest, most sought after, waves are pounding the shores of Hawaii. This is when the biggest surf contest of the year takes place, The Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing. The biggest event takes place at the Banzai Pipeline. The heart of this book happens during the 2012 Billabong Pipe Masters. Chas Smith talks to the two scariest men on the North Shore. He writes stuff that they may not want to have released out into the wild. I wonder what will happen to Chas Smith once this book is published. I am following him on Twitter (@chasdoesntsurf ) to see what he posts after November 19.

I give this book 4 Stars out of 5. If you are going to Hawaii this December to watch the Pipe Masters surfing contest at Pipeline, you need to get this book. It will give you some good inside information, and some safety tips.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release date: November 19, 2013

Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, is surfer and former war reporter Chas Smith’s wild and unflinching look at the high-stakes world of surfing on Oahu’s North Shore—a riveting, often humorous, account of beauty, greed, danger, and crime.

For two months every winter, when Pacific storms make landfall, swarms of mainlanders, Brazilians, Australians, and Europeans flock to Oahu’s paradisiacal North Shore in pursuit of some of the greatest waves on earth for surfing’s Triple Crown competition. Chas Smith reveals how this influx transforms a sleepy, laid-back strip of coast into a lawless, violent, drug-addled, and adrenaline-soaked mecca.

Smith captures this exciting and dangerous place where locals, outsiders, the surf industry, and criminal elements clash in a fascinating look at class, race, power, money, and crime, set within one of the most beautiful places on earth. The result is a breathtaking blend of crime and adventure that captures the allure and wickedness of this idyllic golden world.

Product Details

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: It Books (November 19, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062202529

ISBN-13: 978-0062202529

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x .9 inches

Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces

About the Author

Hyper-ironic surf journalist and bon vivant from Coos Bay, Oregon; frequent contributor to Stab magazine and a contributing editor at Surfing magazine since the mid-2000s. Born (1976) in San Jose, California, Smith moved to Oregon with his family two years later where, at age 10, he started surfing in the chilly waters in and around Coos Bay. He earned a bachelor’s degree in intercultural studies (1998) and a master’s degree in linguistics (2001) from Southern California’s Biola University; Smith’s studies included semesters spent studying Arabic in Egypt and English at Oxford University.

Smith’s first foray into surf journalism came in 2001, when he traveled to Yemen—just after the 9/11 attack—for an Australia’s Surfing Life article. Comfortable in dangerous Third World nations, Smith spent time in Lebanon and Somalia in the early 2000s researching and writing pieces for Vice, an arts and culture magazine. He also covered the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah conflict for the internet-based CurrentTV, an assignment that ended with Smith as a brief captive of Hezbollah.

Smith’s work for Vice caught the eye of Derek Rielly, editor-in-chief at Australia’s Stab magazine, who soon hired him as a contributing writer. Smith’s prose is clipped, packaged in rapid-fire bursts, usually in first-person perspective, always with a tongue-in-cheek earnestness. At Stab, Smith quickly earned a following for his flippant wicked-smart observations of the more urbane pro tour party scene. He loved provocation, and drew attention and a bit of ire as the editor of Stab’s December, 2008 “Fascism Issue.” He gained further notoriety in 2009 for an ugly public dust-up with two-time world champion Mick Fanning, during which Fanning reportedly called Smith a “fucking Jew” for “writing shit” about him, and threatened to punch Smith in the face.

Smith’s work at Surfing is generally more subdued than what he’d done for Stab, though still with a critical spotlight pointed straight at surf culture, particularly in his regular “Baby, Take it Off!” column. In 2012, Smith also began publishing articles in Surfer’s Journal; the following year he had his first feature published in Playboy.

Smith’s first book, Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, a surf-based cultural peek at the North Shore of Oahu, is due out in late 2013.

About the Author from Encyclopedia of Surfing by Matt Warshaw. Smith, Chas

The book description is from Amazon.  Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing

A Review of Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football by John U. Bacon

Fourth and Long- The Fight for the Soul of College FootballFourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football

by John U. Bacon

I enjoyed reading this book, but I live in Michigan and went to Michigan State in the late 60s, so I am a fan of college football, classic Big Ten style. If you aren’t a Big Ten fan, much of this book will probably annoy you. The main focus is from early 2012 through the end of the regular season 2012. Mr. Bacon follows four Big Ten teams, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Penn State. He gets you inside of the troubled Penn State locker room after the NCAA tried to destroy their football program. He also gets you inside information on each of the other programs.

Then Mr. Bacon takes you through the season, with emphasis on the fan experience as he travels around the league and goes to the games as a fan. This run though of the season is a lot of fun and gets you fired up for the 2013 season.

He argues that the major college football programs are being run by CEO type administrators, not for the benefit of the fans, the players, or the students, but instead, he proposes, that they are just trying to maximize income, and therefore profits, to increase their own stature in the community of sports administrators. He questions if fans will keep paying the ever-increasing costs of going to games, if they will put up with all of the demands that TV puts on the live football experience, and if they can stomach the ever-changing college conference lineups. He asks if the rivalries between teams aren’t more important than needless proliferation of post season bowl games.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5 and a Thumbs Up. Any diehard college football fan will enjoy this book, and the arguments that Mr. Bacon makes will be a cause for concern for the future. If you hate the Big Ten, don’t bother with this, because that is the main emphasis of the book.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release date: September 3, 2013

Why we love the game, what is at risk, and the fight to save it.

In search of the sport’s old ideals amid the roaring flood of hypocrisy and greed, bestselling author John U. Bacon embedded himself in four programs—Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern—and captured college football’s oldest, biggest, most storied league, the Big Ten, at its tipping point. He sat in as coaches dissected game film, he ate dinner at training tables, and he listened in locker rooms. He talked with tailgating fans and college presidents, and he spent months in the company of the gifted young athletes who play the game.

None of Bacon’s discoveries is more poignant than this: the last, true defenders of the student-athlete ideal are the players themselves, who, even as money changes everything around them, are left to carry the future of the league, the game, and more than a century of tradition on their backs every fall Saturday.

Fourth and Long reveals intimate scenes behind closed doors, from a team’s angry face-off with their athletic director to a defensive lineman acing his master’s exams in theoretical math. It captures the private moment when coach Urban Meyer earned the devotion of Ohio State’s Buckeyes on their way to a perfect season. It shows Michigan’s athletic department endangering the very traditions that distinguish the college game from all others. And it recreates the euphoria of the Northwestern Wildcats winning their first bowl game in decades, even as they do honor to the student-athlete ideal.

Most unforgettably, Fourth and Long finds what the national media missed in the ugly aftermath of Penn State’s tragic scandal: the unheralded story of players who joined forces with Coach Bill O’Brien to save the university’s treasured program—and with it, a piece of the game’s soul.

This is the work of a writer in love with an old game—a game he sees at the precipice. Bacon’s deep knowledge of sports history and his sensitivity to the tribal subcultures of the college game power this elegy to a beloved and endangered American institution.

Product Details

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 3, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1476706433

ISBN-13: 978-1476706436

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

About the Author

John U. Bacon has worked the better part of two decades as a writer, a public speaker, and a college instructor, winning awards for all three.

He is the author or coauthor of six books on sports and business, including “Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership” (2007), which became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal business bestseller, and “Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football” (2011), which debuted at #6 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

He co-hosts two weekly radio shows on WTKA.com (1050 AM, Ann Arbor-Detroit), and provides weekly sports commentary for Michigan Radio (Ann Arbor, Flint and Grand Rapids), and frequently contributes to documentaries on HBO, ESPN and the Big Ten Network.

Bacon has been sought out to give speeches for financial companies such as Merrill Lynch and Ameriprise, auto manufacturers like Chrysler and Subaru, and international corporations like Microsoft Brazil and Copersucar, from Taipei to Toledo, and Seattle to Sao Palo. In 2011 the Michigan chapter of Meeting Planners International (MPI) named him Speaker of the Year. He also teaches at Northwesterns’ Medill School of Journalism, and the University of Michigan, where he won the Golden Apple Award in 2009. in 2006, he was inducted into the Ann Arbor Huron High School Hall of Fame for helping to lead the hockey team from the worst in school history to the best in three seasons.

Bacon is a decent hockey player, a mediocre Spanish speaker and a poor piano player, but that has not prevented him from enjoying all three.

The book description is from Amazon. Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football