The Antidote to the Box Score

The Antidote to the Box Score

The Antidote to the Box Score

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
June 18 2010 10:08 AM

The Antidote to the Box Score

Fans of sport probably do not immediately think of Harper’s when they want analysis; fans of Harper’s probably do not think immediately of sports writing when they are cataloging the virtues of that publication. Yet Harper’s has produced a remarkable amount of it in its 160-year history, the gems of which are now collected in Rules of the Game: The Best Sports Writing From Harper's Magazine . There are meditations on the enterprise itself (Gary Cartwright on the practice of sportswriting, for example.), but lest you think this is a pointy-headed, navel-gazing book, such selections are tempered by vigorous reported pieces—George Plimpton on the Moscow Olympics or, delightfully, on the sonnet-inspiring meeting of Marianne Moore and Muhammad Ali; Lewis Lapham on the steroid scandals. The table of contents is a murderer’s row of American writers: Mark Twain, Shirley Jackson, Tom Wolfe.   There’s also a similar book out from The New Yorker , The Only Game in Town , if you just can’t get enough long-form sports writing. It’s an excellent way to fill a lazy summer weekend, or a good bet for a last-minute Father’s Day gift.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.