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SportsWorld: An American Dreamland

by Robert Lipsyte

"Bob Lipsyte's underappreciated masterpiece. Ahead of its time in every way. Nothing less than the most important sports book ever written.” --Dave Zirin

"Robert Lipsyte is our best guide to the dramatic, wondrous, and ultimately all-absorbing culture of American sports. Brilliantly written and sharply articulated, this classic text is an insightful and important journey into the heart of American sports and by extension, American society.” --Gay Talese

"Robert Lipsyte is one of the most significant sports journalists of my lifetime. SportsWorld features the insight, prescience, social conscience, and willingness to break from the pack that set Lipsyte apart.” --Bob Costas

"It is in that other thing, the simple and wonderful act of playing, that Lipsyte, despite his withering analysis of the country’s sports obsession, finds hope: 'Yet for all the cynicism and oppression and betrayal, the rhythms of sport, the sensations, and the emotions, are often the most intense and pleasurable ever experienced.’” --The New Yorker [an excerpt from Ian Crouch’s “What We’re Reading" column from earlier this year, the complete version of which is here:]

“An incisive, intelligent, beautifully written book.” --Newsday

“Mr. Lipsyte is a brilliant writer. He can turn a phrase as effortlessly as Earl the Pearl spinning, faking left, then right, to sink a fallaway jumper. He is as erudite in his references . . . as Bill Bradley. He is a phrase maker and a wit.” --Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

Tough and witty, SportsWorld is a well-known commentator’s overview of the most significant form of mass culture in America—sports. It’s a sweaty Oz that has grown in a century from a crucible for character to a complex of capitalism, a place where young people can find both self-fulfillment and cruel exploitation, where families can huddle in a sanctuary of entertainment and be force fed values and where cities and countries can be pillaged by greedy team owners and their paid-for politicians. But this book is not just a screed; it’s a guided visit with such heroes of sports as Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Joe Namath, who the author knew well, and with some he met in passing, such as Richard Nixon, who seemed never to have gotten over missing the cut in college varsity football, a major mark of manhood. We see how SportsWorld sensibilities help elect our politicians, judge our children, fight our wars, and oppress our minorities. And now featuring a new introduction by the author, SportsWorld is a book that will provide the foundation for understanding today’s world of sports and the time of Trump.

In the America of 2017—where the Super Bowl is worth billions, athletes are penalized or forced out of sports for political and anti-racist activism, and Title IX is constantly questioned and undermined—Robert Lipsyte’s 1975 critique remains startlingly and intensely relevant.

ROBERT LIPSYTE is an award-winning sportswriter, a former sports and city columnist for the New York Times and ombudsman of ESPN. He was the Emmy-winning host of the nightly public affairs show The Eleventh Hour, is the author of 12 novels for young adults, and is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring his lifetime contribution in that genre. His other nonfiction books include: and An Accidental Sportswriter and In the Country of Illness: Comfort and Advice for the Journey. He lives on Shelter Island, New York. For much more:

To listen to a conversation between the author and Studs Terkel, about SportsWorld:

To purchase copies of SportsWorld from a variety of booksellers:
For more information from the publisher:

It's a new year and on January 16th I turned 80 years old. That was the good news. Eleven days later, Milo, who arrived from a shelter almost eight years ago, died. He was more than 14 years old, a beautiful tri-color (black, white, brown) Cocker Spaniel mixture from Last Chance Animal Rescue. He was named for the protagonist in Sam's novel, "The Ask." He was sweet and funny and we miss him. He sat in my office while I wrote and even now I keep glancing over to the empty place where he should be. In my dreams I see Milo where all the good dogs go, hanging out with my Dad, who is feeding him treats.

This is the first time in my life that the President of the United States has made me feel unsafe and I've lived through Kennedy's Cuban missile crisis, nutjob Nixon and Bush's weapons of mass destruction. As a school kid I had to "duck and cover" in atomic bomb drills. My Dad always said that nothing in life is as good or bad as your imagination can make it. That helps some.

In other news, the film version of One Fat Summer, my 1977 Young Adult novel, starring Donald Sutherland, Blake Cooper, Luke Wilson, and Judy Greer was released on May 11. It's title is MEASURE OF A MAN. It was written by the gifted screenwriter David Searce (A Single Man), directed by Jim Loach and produced by Christian Taylor.

I returned for the spring semester at Wake Forest University, speaking in the Communications, Education and Documentary Film departments. A great school of terrific students and professors, especially Alan Brown, a scholar of YA literature.

I'm still writing my monthly column for the Shelter Island Reporter, my hometown newspaper. It's called CODGER.

While awaiting Sam's new novel, "Hark," there's his latest volume of short stories, "The Fun Parts," which got rave reviews. Janet Maslin in the New York Times called him a "literary rock star." (And I remember when he fronted a noise punk band, Dung Beetle.)

My memoir, "An Accidental Sportswriter," published seven years ago by Ecco/HarperCollins, is still in paperback and Kindle.

Don't forget another great read, "Along the Roaring River: My Wild Ride from Mao to the Met" by Hao Jiang Tian with Lois B. Morris.

I'll be using THE LIPSITE page for articles you might enjoy and whatever is currently on my mind about my novel writing life. In the JOCK CULTURE section you'll find pieces about my take on sports. Right now, there's a terrific piece about me by Bryan Curtis, the ace Grantland writer.

Don't forget to go to the website of my wife, Lois B. Morris, and take the free personality test. I did. Learned a lot about myself. Gotta be a book in it!

E-mail me at:

If I don't answer immediately, I'm probably writing.