Sportswriting Gems To Read While Safe At Home

A stunning amount of superlative sports writing has been cleverly obscured from view by the literary hidden-ball-trick label equivalent of “Award Winning Modern Literature.” But it is no aberration whatsoever that some of the most celebrated and sophisticated American wordsmiths are also devout students and scribblers who often practice under and emphatically participate in the sports world. 

Sports are about so much more than a simple game with a final result. And many great athletes, like writers, possess superb observational skills too. 

Although some digging is required on the part of the reader, the following list—all of it presented in no particular order—features several examples of great sports writing. Consider it time well spent if you should dabble in any of these works during the ongoing coronavirus sports drought.

Baseball: “Pafko at the Wall” by Don DeLillo

Baseball: “The Laughing Man” by J.D. Salinger

Football: “End Zone” by Don DeLillo

Football: “Teamwork” by Shawn Vestal

Basketball: “Rabbit, Run” by John Updike

Golf: “Rabbit is Rich” by John Updike

Street, board, kid and leisure games: “Seymour: An Introduction” by J.D. Salinger

Street, board, kid and leisure games: “The Fortress of Solitude” by Jonathan Lethem

Tennis: “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley” and “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace

Tennis: “The Information” by Martin Amis

Darts: “London Fields” by Martin Amis

Boxing: “Destination: Morgue!” by James Ellroy

Boxing: “2666” by Roberto Bolaño

Frisbee: “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers

White water rafting: “Downstream” by Antonya Nelson

Rodeo Sports: “The Misfits” by Arthur Miller

Chess: “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon

Hunting: “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” by Wells Tower

Demolition Derby: “The Sweet Hereafter” by Russell Banks

Racing, aerospace competitions, or anything automotive written by Tom Wolfe

About Jackson Pappin 50 Articles
Jackson Pappin is a freelance writer. A 2018 WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication alumni, he writes fiction, journalism, columns, essays and poetry. His work has been published in Anastamos, The Oregonian, The Spokesman Review, The Seattle P.I. Reader Blogs, The Daily Evergreen, The Central Circuit, LandEscapes and at the Spectra Art Gallery. His writing is available at

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