Sports in Books: A Discussion

There are a lot of sports going on right now.
Essentially, there are always a lot of sports going on at the professional level, at least where I live in the USA. There’s hockey and basketball in the winter, and then baseball starts in the spring and goes through October, and football heads through fall and into winter (my knowledge on sports other than baseball is rather lacking). And that’s just men’s sports, there’s even more if you count in women’s (which, unfortunately, people rarely do). Right now, the Olympics are happening, meaning that EVEN MORE sports are happening, these ones world-wide. The Olympics these year have several new sports join the mix, including rock climbing, and are seeing the return of a few old ones, like baseball and softball (!!!!!).

Because of all these sports, I wanted to write a discussion post about them, and their place in books. Let’s begin!

Sports are practically a story themselves. This is a team, or just a person, who goes out there, plays this game with certain rules that are specific to that sport. They win, or they lose (or in some cases, tie), they might get injured or they might lead their team to this great, unassuming victory. After that game, they have a road trip to the next one, or they’re attempting school on top of this sport, or they play professionally and they do…whatever professional sports players do after a game. And sports have so many elements of a great story. There’s suspense, there’s stakes, there’s people working together (in some sports), there’s thrilling comebacks or heartbreaking losses. So why aren’t sports in books more often?

The main reason I think that this is the case is just because there are so many rules, and this mostly goes for sports books focused on professional sports. In professional sports, you have all the rules of a regular game of sports, the way to play the game is the same, and more often than not you have to explain this to a reader, but you also have things like trading players, and how many different teams there are, and standings and the farm system and the draft and the trade deadline (literally all my knowledge of this stuff comes from baseball so I’m simply assuming that other professional sports have these things). Professional sports come with a whole lot of numbers, a lot of which people just don’t understand, and so therefore it can be hard to write a book about them that allows someone who doesn’t know what those numbers mean to read it.

But what about high school sports and rec leagues? You’re able to eliminate basically all those numbers, as statistics just aren’t kept track of as much in the lower levels. But I think that these level sports are just harder to write an interesting story about. And I know, I literally just said that sports are basically perfect for stories. But unless you’re giving a play by play of a game, in which case you might want to consider having a sports blog instead of writing a book, or even become a radio broadcaster, there’s a lot of empty space in that book. You can’t just write, “I went to baseball practice, I went home, I went to sleep, I went to school, I went to baseball practice,’ etc. To be able to write a story that really hooks people, you need to write different things happening in each of those baseball practices, each baseball game that is played, and you need to do it in a way that people who are not sports fans can actually understand.

But here’s the thing–it is possible to write a book about sports, and these books are important to have out there. First of all, they can show people that people like them can play sports, and can do well in sports. In professional sports, there are so few out queer people (especially and mostly in men’s professional sports) and for a young queer kid to read a book with someone who is queer and playing sports can be really inspiring. Also, books with girls in sports are incredibly important. Did you know that by the age of 14, twice as many girls drop out of sports as boys? That’s a fact that I learned from an ad from the Olympics so thank you, ad. Women’s sports also get so much less media coverage than men’s do–women’s sports get only 6% of all sports media coverage, so it’s harder for girls to see themselves in sports. That’s why we need to have books about these things, to show girls that they CAN play sports, that there ARE other women who play sports.

Sports are a part of a lot of people’s everyday life, so why shouldn’t they be a part of books? There’s a lot to unpack in sports, there are so many stories out there that haven’t been written. In my opinion, this is an entire genre that we’ve only really skimmed the surface. People love sports, and people love books, so why aren’t there more sports books?

There are a lot of sports out there. Like, a lot. Some of which I’d never heard of until the Olympics (dressage, anyone?). Some that I still don’t know of. There are sports that aren’t popular here in the US but are really popular other places. I mean–I recently read a book about the sport of muggle quidditch of all things! (And it was super queer). So why don’t we show the world about those sports, show the world that girls play sports, that queer people play sports. Sports are such an amazing way to connect with other people, to find common interests, to have fun and find something you’re passionate about. We should show that to people in books, because there are so many more sports and people in sports than books talk about.

I’ve decided that this post will be one of two, and the next one will be a series of recommendations about sports in books!

What did you think about this post? Do you play or like any sports? Do you agree with me about this, or do you have different opinions? Please, talk to me in the comments!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by, and stay safe and keep on reading!