Thursday, September 04, 2008

Varsity Letters Tonight: Dave Zirin Matters

Fantastic Varsity Letters event tonight, if you live in NYC:

Dave Zirin, one of my favorite writers and favorite people in sports media. He's got a fantastic new book out: "A People's History of Sports in the United States." (h/t: H. Zinn)

I did a Varsity Letters event with Zirin earlier this year -- he puts on an amazing show. He did his entire thing extemporaneously, and it was fascinating with high energy.

Zirin manages to do phenomenally well what few -- if any -- in sports do at all: Write about topics of gravitas. But he does it without being dour or preachy -- in the least.

In fact, part of his admirable ability is that he tackles extremely weighty subjects but makes them entirely accessible through powerful, clear-eyed analysis. I envy that tremendously.

It's a hell of a challenge to distill the past 250 years of sports into 300 pages and focus mainly on the intersection of American sports and its socio-political context. And Zirin nails it.

He plays a unique and critical role in the sports media ecosystem -- a fearless and independent critic and thinker. I would rank him on the short list of the best sportswriters in America.

If you're around the area, I highly recommend checking him out tonight -- more than that, I recommend the book highly. It made my "Put on my 'display' shelf to keep for good" list.

(Also reading tonight will be my former ESPN colleague Buster Olney -- who has better insights into the Yankees than anyone and who should have an interesting take, given the Yankees are likely to miss the playoffs for the first time in a long time this fall. Olney is one of the best guys at ESPN, and he has worked hard to turn himself into a very very good radio and TV news analyst. Also appearing tonight will be Harvey Frommer, who published an oral history of Yankee Stadium. So if you're a Yankees fan, tonight's event is even more must-see.)

Here are the details and the always-amazing interviews with the participants.

It's at 8 tonight. Happy Ending. 302 Broome on the Lower East Side. And it's FREE.

-- D.S.

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