An entertaining, thoughtful examination that will appeal not only to soccer fans but to anyone interested in the business of...

Sounders FC: AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE BEST FRANCHISE LAUNCH IN AMERICAN SPORTS HISTORY

A behind-the-scenes look at the successful launch of a Major League Soccer franchise.

After being founded in 2007 and playing their first game in 2009, the Seattle Sounders have been a model franchise not only for MLS but for sports in general, setting league attendance records and building a uniquely devoted fan base while avoiding the growing pains faced by other expansion teams. As the author writes, before the team was put together, Seattle had just experienced the loss of the NBA’s Supersonics, and “the thought that Seattle, of all places, could be the home of the most successful sports franchise launch in American history was beyond rational belief.” But the Sounders blossomed through the visionary efforts of three men in particular—movie executive Joe Roth, CEO Tod Leiweke and general manager Adrian Hanauer—who recognized the importance of forging a unique relationship between the team and the community. So tight is that bond that after the Sounders once lost badly at home, the team offered ticket refunds to every fan who attended the game. Management also bowed to the fans’ wishes by agreeing not to have Budweiser sponsor the traditional pregame march to the stadium. “In almost every way they forged interactions with their fans that were different from anything that had been seen in American professional sports,” Gastineau says. The author effectively captures the key signings of veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller and Colombian forward Fredy Montero, who was so young at the time that his first question to management was, “If I go to the U.S., can I get medicine for my acne?” He also details the out-of-the-box contributions of comedian and co-owner Drew Carey, who, among other things, suggested fans vote on whether to keep the general manager in office. “It’s great because the fans are invested in the team no matter what happens good or bad,” Carey explains. The Sounders have yet to win an MLS Cup, but Gastineau has scored with this vivid history.

An entertaining, thoughtful examination that will appeal not only to soccer fans but to anyone interested in the business of sports.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491068342

Page Count: 270

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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