Just six days ago, Cornell Athletics moved into Phase I of the Fall 2020 Phased Athletics Activity Plan. Even though coaches and athletes are now allowed one hour of conditioning each day, it is still unclear when full season sports will resume.
Until sports come back in full swing, we’d like to recommend these five iconic sports books to fill the study breaks normally occupied by attending Cornell games.
1. The Game by Ken Dryden
First on the list is an all-time sports classic authored by Cornell’s very own hockey star Ken Dryden. Dryden played for Cornell during his time as an undergraduate from 1967 to 1969 earning many NCAA and ECAC accolades. After his extraordinary career with the Red, he went on to goaltend for the Montreal Canadiens and become the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1983, the same year he published this memoir, Dryden was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This story provides an inside look into the life of a full-time hockey player as well as key figures that impacted Dryden.
2. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Brown brings to life the incredible story of the American college crew team who beat the odds to win gold in his 2013 non-fiction novel The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This crew team came from the University of Washington and beat the best teams in the U.S. to earn the right to represent their country at the Olympics. In his book, Brown’s main character is Joe Rantz and the reader is treated to first-hand accounts of both the unbelievable hardships overcome by the team members and the spectacle that was Hitler’s Olympics of 1936.
3. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
If you want to step outside of college athletics for a good read, look no further than Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. A must for any baseball fan, Lewis details how the low-budget Oakland Athletics baseball team used statistics to be competitive in the major league. The story’s main character is general manager Billy Beane who despite a lackluster career as a player, helped to revolutionize talent scouting by applying sabermetrics to baseball. When you finish the book, check out the 2011 movie starring Brad Pitt and Johan Hill, which was nominated for six Academy awards
4. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
This story focuses not on college or professional athletes, but rather football in American high schools. Bissinger actually moved his family to Odessa, Texas to fully immerse himself in this football experience. He takes his readers beyond the game itself to contextualize sports within society. Bissinger does not shy away from the details outside of the playing field, touching on topics such as education, socio-economic and racial issues. The rivalry depicted between Odessa and neighboring Dallas Carter provides insight into the lives of high school football stars. The book also concludes by showing just how difficult life can become when you don’t play by the rules.
5. The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
Whether you are a horse-person, an animal lover, or just a sports fan looking for a less traditional sports tale, this story of a slaughterhouse bound horse’s meteoric rise to stardom in the showjumping world will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. A true rags-to-riches plot with a feel-good ending, this book details how the unlikely duo of horse Snowman and rider Harry de Leyer come together to beat all odds. Many equestrians spend a lifetime searching for a horse like Snowman and only dreaming of achieving the bond de Leyer and Snowman shared. The Eighty-Dollar Champion draws the reader into the close relationship between horse and rider, making one feel a part of their journey in competing at top equestrian competitions in the U.S.