October is a special time of year for the convergence of sports. After a long season, playoff baseball has begun its cool, electric nights. NCAA football teams fill fans’ Saturdays jockeying for near-blemishless records and a chance at the playoffs. NFL teams fight to make space for themselves at the top of the standings. The NHL commences its new grind toward awarding the coveted Stanley Cup. A new NBA season looms just around the corner. Beyond the mainstream, many other leagues across all ages and sports tick along, fill afternoons, and maintain space for spectatorship and engagement. So many sports conversations eddy at once in October, which seems to make October a perfect time to release a new issue of More Than Sports Talk, my first as Editor.
The work that comprises this October issue is lyrical and critical, devastating and humorous, historical and eerily present. Leesa Cross-Smith’s piece “It’s All About the Pitching” ushers us into playoff baseball with a meditation on pitching, family, and place. Jim White takes us inside the athlete’s mind and body with his poems “Inside the White Helmet” and “The Shape I Used to Be.” In “The Fortunate 50,” Letitia Moffitt welcomes readers to the world of ultrarunning. Danny Caine shows readers what it’s like to be the teacher of an NBA-bound college basketball star and Cleveland’s undying belief in Johnny Manziel. Carlo Matos portrays MMA in lyrical bursts in “In the Grip of a Name.” The work here represents a seemingly unwrangleable scope of sports conversation, from Chris Wiewiora’s skateboarding narrative to Eric Poole’s piece on Mandela and the 1995 Rugby World Cup, from Dennie Wendt’s incisive critical history of the USFL and Donald Trump, to Helen Park’s experience at a London boxing club, to Greg Weiss’ formally inventive thoughts on spectatorship.
As a life-long sports fan, literature nerd, and first-time editor of sports literature, it has been inspiring and invigorating to read the creative, critical, and diverse engagement in sports that is offered by these writers. At More Than Sports Talk, we strive to show what many know—that sports discourse is diverse, active, critical, ever-changing, and deeply entwined with us in our countless roles as human beings. We strive to bring new perspectives monthly from sports detractors and lovers, from the margins and the big arenas. Whether you are here for the first time or not, I hope you find in these pieces new insights into sports and humanity. I hope you are inspired to share your own unique voice in sports. Welcome to More Than Sports Talk, dear readers. I am honored to present these wonderful writers’ work. Thank you for reading.
Photo by Stewart Baird