Tag Archives: Sports

A Review of Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas


by Jeanne Marie Laskas


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.

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

A Review of Power Fade by Keith Gockenbach

powerfadePower Fade

By Keith Gockenbach

South Nine Publishing: December 2012

Power Fade is a well written mystery thriller that will keep you interested through the many twists up until the surprising conclusion. Mr. Gockenbach uses his knowledge of professional golf to make the tournament portions of the book read as quite authentic, but he doesn’t overpower you with golfing technicalities and terminologies. You don’t need to be a golfer to enjoy this novel.

This is a fine debut novel and I recommend it. I give this book 4 stars out of 5 and a thumbs up.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Book Description

Release Date: December 2012

When the Game Turns Deadly

Professional golfer Roy Gilbert wakes, dazed and defenseless, in the mangrove swamp of the Everglades. Across the bay hangs the wreckage of the small Cessna his friend John piloted on their sightseeing trip. Roy has no memory of the crash, and John is nowhere to be found.

Roy escapes the swamp and rejoins the tour, but danger follows. Why did the plane crash? Who is chasing him? Where is John? Who can he trust? The answers lead Roy on a perilous journey to a breathtaking climax.

In the style of Dick Francis, Power Fade brings mystery and suspense to the high-profile world of professional golf.

Product Details

Paperback: 290 pages

Publisher: South Nine Publishing (December 2012)

ISBN-13: 9780983873754

Language: English

Original title: Power Fade

About the Author

Keith Gockenbach grew up in Robinson, Illinois, playing golf, reading mysteries, and caddying on the PGA Tour.His first attempt at writing was his 5th-grade short story, The Fly-Paper Stick-up, which was not, and will never be, published.

Keith has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Clemson and an MBA from MIT. He retired in 2004 after 27 years in the chemical industry to pursue his dream of playing professional golf, playing in the 2006 U.S. Senior Open, the 2007 Senior Open at Muirfield, and two Champions Tour National Finals. Keith’s golf memoir, Inside, Outside, and On the Ropes, was published in 2011.

Keith lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with his wife, Lynn, and his two standard poodle rescues, Rose and Dazzle. His second novel, Deadly Loop, is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2013.

The book description and author information is from Goodreads. Power Fade

A Review of Suicide Squeeze (The Fourth Outfielder Series, #1) by R. W. Bennett

Suicide SqueezeSuicide Squeeze (The Fourth Outfielder Series, #1)

by R. W. Bennett

Mark Mercer (Merc), a veteran outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury in the offseason. He is an experienced long distance runner and so he has been assigned a young outfielder, Carlos (Cinco), to mentor. Merc’s job is to get the guy who is going to replace him in shape, so that on opening day Carlos will be playing his position in the outfield and Merc will be sitting on the bench. This might be a problem for some players, but Merc is a team player and knows that he will have plenty of chances to play, so everything is cool.

Merc is taking Carlos on a morning run in the mountains of West Virginia when they are surprised by an explosion not too far off the trail that they are running on. They take cover and are able to observe a hijacking of a truck carrying explosives to the nearby mine. Carlos tosses a large boulder though the windshield of one of the terrorist’s vehicles which then runs off the road and down the mountainside. When the other SUV stops, Merc is able to bean the leader of the group with a rock, but the driver drags his boss back in the truck and they drive off.

From this point, Merc and Cinco have to get ready to play Spring ball and evade the terrorists, who are out for revenge. They also have to deal with the normal demands of Spring Training, while trying to figure out what the terrorists are planning.

This is a fun beginning to a new light-hearted mystery adventure series with a baseball backdrop. The tone and writing style reminds me of a cross between the “Elvis Cole” series by Robert Crais and the “Myron Bolitar” series by Harlan Coben, so if you like either of these, you are certain to enjoy this new series. I am looking forward to reading more about Merc, Cinco and the rest of the characters playing for the Boston Red Sox. I give this book a big thumbs up and 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book from the author. All he asked was that I read it and give it an honest review.

Book Description

Publication Date: December 15, 2012

Divorced, missing his daughter, with a non-existent love life and on the verge of losing his position on the Boston Red Sox, Mark Mercer thought his life could get no worse. He was wrong. When he and Carlos, the rookie he coaches, stumble upon and thwart a hijacking, they find themselves in the middle of a vicious terror plot. Together with a beautiful FBI agent and Carlos, Mark now is in a race against time to save not just himself but tens of thousands of others targeted by the terrorists.

Product Details

Paperback: 312 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 15, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1481202790

ISBN-13: 978-1481202794

Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

RW Bennett has transitioned from a long business career to writing and composing. Bennett has been a Sales and Marketing VP, a financial systems consultant, a restaurateur, a day trader and a CPA but has always loved the written, spoken and sung word. Bennett majored in chemistry and business administration at Wartburg College in Iowa where he was a varsity wrestler and rugby player. He earned an MBA from University of Denver. Bennett’s interests in sports – he was a top-flight marathoner – as well as a better than average cyclist, tennis player, golfer and skier show through in his writing. He also has interests in vocal music, cooking, wine, politics and theology. Bennett lives in Denver with his wife Barbara and their Papillon dogs, Doodle and Dandy.

The product descriptions and author information is from Amazon. Suicide Squeeze