Sports Sports Feature

Fictional Sports: Once upon a playing field

Literature plays a crucial role in shaping a reader’s mind. Each genre contributes to how a person thinks and one underrated genre in the world of fiction is sports. Most time, when you browse through the shelves of a bookstore, you might stumble upon a shelf dedicated to sports. You would always see autobiographies and motivational novels of famous athletes and their journeys to success. This article, however, will not revolve around non-fiction type of books. It will tackle those that go beyond the mundane.

Many writers release novels that tackle certain sports. The content is far different from each other as each writer injects a creative story line to emphasize their take on sports-themed books.

The beauty of fiction novels is that the writers have the free will to choose what happens to their protagonists and how the story unfolds. This also shapes the protagonists’ character development which is essential to the story. What happens to them in the story, or what they are going through, could be a beacon of hope for readers. Another perk of these novels is that the story can be tinkered with, as some novels may be identical with each other. Although stories can unfold differently and authors can compose their stories in different angles. All of these apply just the same to sports-themed fiction novels.





One that people may find peculiar is the novel entitled Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein. Feinstein’s novel is written in the point of view of an investigative journalist; a star athlete is blackmailed to throw away a championship game, and the protagonists are two young writers investigating the said case. The story is unique because the story is angled from a non-athlete’s perspective sleuthing around the sport of basketball. It creates an atmosphere that the protagonist is not playing the sport, yet is immersed in the overall theme which is still aligned with sports.

Another novel that delves into the theme of sports is Catching Jordan by Miranda Kinneally. The novel’s protagonist is a lone female American Football player in her team, Jordan, who wishes to get a scholarship in her dream school. However, her scholarship is threatened as a talented male quarterback moves to her school. Although the plot revolves around her internal struggle to refrain from falling for the new player, the novel touches on themes of sexism and gender roles. The protagonist faces sexist peers and an unsupportive father, but finds comfort in her team that does not treat her any differently based on her gender. The unique aspect of this novel is how it unraveled those themes using American Football, which usually connotes strength and masculinity as a device.

Don DeLillo’s End Zone is another novel that probes into themes that are unrelated to sports, yet uses a sport to unravel its implications on modern society. Published in 1972, the novel focuses on a football player whose team experiences unprecedented success. As the protagonist obsesses over nuclear warfare, he starts to notice that some of the terms used in football are much like those used by generals at war. The novel uses the sport of American Football as a metaphor for war, exemplifying people’s obsession with conflict.

Talented writers find ways of incorporating seemingly unrelated topics into a cohesive narrative that speaks to its readers. Using sports as a literary device engages the reader by giving them something they can relate to, making it easier for the novel to express its intended meaning. What really captivates readers to take interest in sports-themed novels is the perspective of the story; you could be the athlete trying to win the game, the spectator building a significant connection to a sport, or the ambitious kid trying to make a name in the big league.

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