Losers: Dispatches from the Other Side of the Scoreboard

Penguin. Aug. 2020. 304p. ed. by ed. by Mary Pilon & Louisa Thomas. ISBN 9780143133834. pap. $17. SPORTS
Often in sportswriting, wthe focus is on the winning team. However, here editors Pilon (The Monopolists; The Kevin Show) and Thomas (Louisa; Conscience) compile essays, some of which are previously published, that consider losing as it “reveals something raw about what it means to be human.” The collected works are from writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Gay Talese, Bob Sullivan, Kevin Hall, Brian Platzer, Carla Correa, and Ryan O’Hanlon. Among those profiled are Floyd Patterson (competing 1952–1972), the first boxing heavyweight to regain the title after losing it; Dick Beardsley, runner-up in the 1982 Boston Marathon; Ralph Branca, whose 1951 pitch to Bobby Thomson resulted in the home run causing the Dodgers to lose the pennant; LeBron James and his inconsistent record in NBA Finals; the 1964 season of the Philadelphia Phillies and their loss of the pennant; and tennis player Nick Kyrgios, who defeated some of the best players but could not win consistently. Biographies of contributing authors are included.
VERDICT A fascinating look at another side of sports, emphasizing those who lost games, matches, and tournaments, along with the pressures they faced and the ramifications of their losses. A wonderful choice for sports enthusiasts.
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