Writing about sport from the London Review of Books
‘We were learning to cope with the ordinary truth sport brings out more clearly than any other endeavour: there is always somebody better.’ – Benjamin Markovits
The most enthralling sport – and the most enthralling sports writing – turns on the contrast between different kinds of time. The narrative of a lifetime can be determined by a single moment of seemingly random action – a missed shot, a stumble, an injury no one saw coming – after which nothing was the same again. At the same time, snapshots can illuminate the arc of a whole life. Nothing is better than sport for allowing a sudden shift from micro to macro and back again. Of course, all sport is essentially trivial – it’s just another race, just another game. The finishing line stands at an arbitrary spot and the horse that gets there first doesn’t prove anything about anything. That’s why it works. The arbitrariness makes it possible for us to tell our different tales. Here are ten of the best from the archives of the LRB, about tennis, football, snooker, speedboat racing, cricket, swimming, horse racing, basketball, cycling and surfing – but also so much else besides.
Featuring: Tariq Ali, Gabrielle Annan, Terry Castle, Marjorie Garber, Jane Holland, Benjamin Markovits, Karl Miller, David Runciman, Amia Srinivasan and Heathcote Williams.