Inside the Ropes


Inside the Ropes

Sportswriters Get Their Game On

Edited and with an introduction by Zachary Michael Jack

508 pages


November 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Most of us will never know what it’s like to parachute out of a Cessna, tend goal for the Boston Bruins, burn rubber on a NASCAR track, scale Everest, or quarterback the Detroit Lions. So it’s our good fortune when dauntless literary journalists actually play the sports they cover—returning with firsthand tales from “inside the ropes.” Here, in the tradition popularized by George Plimpton, is participatory sportswriting at its finest and most far-out. Editor Zachary Michael Jack fields a dream team of today’s best sports journalists, hotshots, and rising stars in search of the game behind the game.

More than three dozen decorated writers take the field. Heirs apparent such as Tom Verducci, Jack McCallum, Melissa King, and Sam Walker join veterans Paul Gallico, George Plimpton, Davis Miller, Donald Katz, Tim Cahill, Grace Butcher, and James McManus in swinging for the journalistic fence. Together these thrill-seeking men and women capture the mojo of returning John McEnroe’s serve, taking a punch from Ali, paddling Jack London’s Alaskan river route, coaching the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, umping Manny Ramirez. Forty eye-popping accounts offer the straight scoop as never before—not just in the field but on it.

Author Bio

Former newspaper sportswriter and editor Zachary Michael Jack is an assistant professor of English at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where he teaches workshops in literary and participatory journalism. The editor of many essay collections on the environment and outdoor life, Jack also has authored two volumes of poetry.
Contributors: Billy Anderson, Barbara Beckwith, Dan Bishop, Grace Butcher, Tim Cahill, Betsy Crowfoot, Michael Finkel, Steve Friedman, Paul Gallico, Helga Hengge, Leslie Heywood, John Hildebrand, Zachary Michael Jack, Mark Jenkins, Ron C. Judd, James Kaplan, Don Kardong, Donald Katz, Melissa King, Davis Miller [aka Davis Lee], Corey Levitan, Jeff MacGregor, David Mamet, Jack McCallum, Bill McKibben, James McManus, T. Edward Nickens, Nick Paumgarten, George Plimpton, Rodney Rothman Bob Shacochis, Rob Story, Robert Twigger, Tom Verducci, Sam Walker, Dan Washburn, Dana White, and Randy Wayne White.


“These intrepid scribes who put down their pens and laptops and entered the arena may have gotten pummeled, pinned, passed, and pasted. But, man, did they capture the experience. Inside the Ropes is as rich a collection of writing—not just sportswriting, but writing writing—as one could hope to find.”—L. Jon Wertheim, senior writer for Sports Illustrated and author of Running the Table: The Legend of Kid Delicious, the Last Great American Pool Hustler

“As a former pro athlete turned head football coach, I can vouch that Inside the Ropes has the best feel for sport I've ever read, written by the best sportswriters in America.”—Chuck Long, head football coach for San Diego State University and former NFL quarterback

Table of Contents

Editor's Preface
Introduction: Full-Court Journalism
Paul Gallico - "The Feel"
Donald Katz - "The Hans Brinker Complex"
David Mamet - "The Deer Hunter"
Bill McKibben - "Across the Disappearing Finish Line"
Jack McCallum - "The Backstory"
Leslie Heywood - "Bench Press, or Becoming a Girl Again"
Dana White - "Flight of Fancy"
Nick Paumgarten - "A Ski Mountaineer and a History of Tragedy"
George Plimpton - "Hockey"
Tom Verducci - "My Trip to the Show (Part II)"
Robert Twigger - "Foaming at the Mouth"
Sam Walker - "Get Somebody Loose!"
Jeff MacGregor - "Bad, Brutal Fun"
Dan Washburn - "Dragon Boat Racing: Unleast the Dragon . . . Boats"
Greg Bishop - "It Isn't a Snap"
Helga Hengge - "Reaching Her Peak"
Mark Jenkins - "Pickles"
T. Edward Nickens - "Fishing with the Shad King"
Michael Finkel - "Running Like Hell"
Don Kardong - "Marine for a Day"
Corey Levitan - "Now on Deck: Ruffians in the Diamond"
Randy Wayne White - "And in This Corner, the Ghost of Ernest Hemingway"
Melissa King - "It's All in the Game"
Tim Cahill - "The First Fear Fandango"
Donald Katz - "The Master Grappler"
Billy Anderson - "The Running of the Bulls: He Who Hesitates Is Lunch"
James McManus - "Fortune's Smile"
Grace Butcher - "Q: Why  Do You Want to Race? A: Because My Name Comes Apart"
Betsy Crowfoot - "Turning It Up"
John Hildebrand - "Reading the River"
Rob Story - "Climb Every Molehill"
George Plimpton - "Football"
Steve Friedman - "La Tour D'Amour"
Bob Shacochis - "Here the Bear and the Mafia Room"
James Kaplan - "Words Fail Me"
Barbara Beckwith - "Tournament-tough"
Ron C. Judd - "Race a Memorable First for 17th Man"
Zachary Michael Jack - "Cry Me a River"
Rodney Rothman - "Shuffleboard and the Future of Sport"
Davis Lee - "First Person"
The Dream Team, aka the Contributors
About the Editor

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