Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2015″

“The Best American Sports Writing 2015,” edited by Wright Thompson
“The Best American Sports Writing 2015,” edited by Wright Thompson

The older we get, I think, the more the idea of “legacy” enters our everyday thoughts. The legacy we leave for our families, our workplaces and industries, or our communities – the closer the end gets, the more we wonder what we’ll leave behind.

The Best American Sports Writing 2015 is the 25th entry in Glenn Stout’s annual anthology series. The forward from Stout, who at 58 has spent nearly half his life on this series, is much longer than it typically is, and “legacy” runs throughout.

BASW 15 then segues into an introduction by ESPN writer Wright Thompson. Thompson dovetails Stout by writing about the impact BASW has had on him since his days at the University of Missouri, and how honored he is to be part of its legacy, which is clearly the through line for the ensuing 21 stories.

Very few of the BASW volumes I’ve reviewed to date establish a running theme, but here it works. Seth Wickersham’s “Awakening the Giant,” about NFL Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, makes Tittle’s severe dementia something that’s robbed him of any awareness of his own legacy, as he no longer recalls almost any of the moments that make him so beloved.

Tommy Tomlinson does the exact same thing with former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in “Precious Memories.” These two nearly identical tales reinforce and amplify each other’s sadness over how hard it would be to lose your own past, your own legacy. Continue reading Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2015″